The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 20 June 2019

Portrait of the Week - 20 June 2019
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Boris Johnson was well ahead in the parliamentary stage of the contest for the leadership of the Conservative party, gaining 126 of the 313 votes by MPs in the second ballot, with Jeremy Hunt second at 46 (and Dominic Raab knocked out). He had declined to take part in a Channel 4 debate, and was represented by an empty podium before an audience purporting to be floating voters. The most memorable metaphor of that debate concerned bin bags. Rory Stewart said: ‘I was trying to cram a whole series of rubbish bins into the rubbish bin.’ He had meant to say ‘a whole series of rubbish bags’, but the point was that unrealistic Brexit promises resembled his dustbin experience. Johnson did appear later on a BBC debate, with Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Sajid Javid, and all seemed to assent to an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party. Chris Froome, the cyclist, crashed into a wall at about 40 mph, fracturing a femur, hip, ribs and his neck.

Heathrow Airport announced its ‘masterplan’ to build a third runway by 2026. South Western Railway staff went on a five-day strike over the role of guards. Chuka Umunna, who left the Labour party to join Change UK, joined the Liberal Democrats and was appointed their Treasury spokesman; Change UK applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to the Independent Group for Change. Michal Szewczuk, 19, from Leeds, was jailed for just over four years and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski, 18, from west London, given an 18-month detention for terrorism offences as part of a group called the Sonnenkrieg Division promoting racialist attacks. Two more boats, containing 40 migrants, including children, were intercepted off Kent, bringing to 794 the number of migrants in small boats found in the Channel since last November.

Stephen Schwarzman, an American financier, gave Oxford University £150 million for a new institute to study the ethics of artificial intelligence. London saw five murders in six days: four stabbings and a shooting. In Luton a 15-year-old was left fighting for his life after being stabbed more than 20 times. More than 580 houses in the Wainfleet area of Lincolnshire were evacuated for more than a week when the River Steeping burst its banks after heavy rain. India beat Pakistan at Old Trafford in a Cricket World Cup match (watched by a billion television viewers) by 89 runs on the Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method when rain interrupted play.

Abroad

The streets of central Hong Kong were full of protesters on Sunday — the organisers said two million — against a proposal to allow extradition to China; the rally took place despite an undertaking by Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, to postpone the bill enabling the change. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was seen trembling uncontrollably as she greeted the president of Ukraine on a hot day in Berlin; she blamed dehydration. During a live-streamed press conference by Shaukat Yousafzai, a provincial Pakistan politician, a ‘cat filter’ was accidentally applied by his media team, resulting in viewers seeing him with pink pointed ears and whiskers.

The United States, joined by Britain and Saudi Arabia, blamed Iran for explosives attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a month after four others were attacked off the United Arab Emirates. Iran denied responsibility, but announced that by 27 June it would breach the limit of its stockpile of enriched uranium allowed under a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. The United States sent another 1,000 troops to the Middle East. Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist politician overthrown as president of Egypt in 2013, collapsed and died in a barred part of the court where he was on trial, aged 67. Two people died of Ebola fever in Uganda, having crossed the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 1,400 have died of the disease since August.

A power cut affected more than 47 million across Argentina, Uruguay and parts of Paraguay. Canada approved the £3 billion Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project. Samsung advised owners of its televisions to carry out complicated checks ‘every few weeks’ to ‘prevent malicious software attacks’. Franco Zeffirelli, the film director, died aged 96. Gloria Vanderbilt, the heiress, died aged 95. The Archbishop of Paris and a dozen clergy wearing hard hats celebrated Mass in Notre Dame for the first time since the fire on 15 April. CSH