The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 5 October 2017

Also: the collapse of Monarch, more Trump tweets and the panic caused by a Bible reading

Portrait of the Week - 5 October 2017
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Theresa May, the Prime Minister, told her audience at the Conservative party conference that she wanted to continue, like them, to ‘do our duty by Britain’. She said the government planned to make it easier for local authorities to build council houses. On the eve of the conference, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in an interview with the Sun sketched out four ‘red lines’ that he said should apply to Brexit. These included a transition period that must not last ‘a second more’ than two years. His stipulations went beyond anything agreed by the government, but Mrs May sidestepped questions about whether he was ‘unsackable’. Later she said: ‘I think leadership is about ensuring you have a team of people who aren’t yes-men.’ Mr Johnson received a standing ovation for a conference speech in which he said, with reference to the British public: ‘Let that lion roar!’ Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the party ‘needs to get over its current nervous breakdown and man up a little bit’.

Monarch Airlines ceased trading and 860,000 people lost bookings; the Civil Aviation Authority set about bringing back 110,000 holidaymakers from overseas. Henry Bolton, aged 54, a former army officer, beat Anne Marie Waters, the founder of Sharia Watch, to become the leader of Ukip. ‘Bags for life’ can spread food poisoning germs, the Food Standards Agency said. The city council revoked the freedom of Oxford granted in 1997 to Aung San Suu Kyi. The Scottish government announced a ban on fracking. The flagpole at Edinburgh Castle on which the Union flag flies snapped in high winds.

The Universal Credit system would continue to be introduced, David Gauke, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said, but benefit claimants left without support would be able to get cash advances. He was responding to an appeal by 12 Conservative MPs to delay the scheme because 24 per cent of new claimants waited for more than six weeks to be paid in full. Postmen belonging to the Communication Workers Union voted to go on strike. Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said that paper railway tickets would be done away with on most routes by the end of next year. RMT union members working for four railway companies went on strike. Passengers on a morning train from Shepperton to Waterloo panicked and forced open doors to jump to safety when a man began reading aloud from the Bible.


More than 800 people were hurt when Spanish police using truncheons and rubber bullets tried to stop voting in a referendum on independence for Catalonia. Thirty-three policemen were injured. The Catalan authorities said that 90 per cent of the 2.2 million people who voted (out of 5.3 million registered) had backed independence. The King of Spain said on television that organisers of the referendum had ‘broken the democratic principles of the rule of law’. An Austrian law came into effect banning full-face veils such as burkas or niqabs. Thousands of people in favour of abortion demonstrated in Dublin, calling for a change to the Republic of Ireland’s constitution, which was amended in 1983 to give an equal right to life to an unborn child and a pregnant woman. Two men were to the first to marry when same-sex marriage became legal in Germany.

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, revealed during a visit to China that America was in ‘direct contact’ with North Korea. President Donald Trump responded by tweeting: ‘Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!’ Tom Price, Mr Trump’s health secretary, resigned over his use of private jets costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for government business trips. ‘Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico,’ Mr Trump tweeted after mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticised White House hurricane relief efforts. ‘They want everything to be done for them.’ Tom Petty, the popular musician, died aged 66.

At least 59 people were killed and 500 taken to hospital when Stephen Paddock, aged 64, from Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, Las Vegas, on a crowd at an outdoor music festival. He then killed himself. Police found 23 firearms in his room. Two women were killed at St Charles railway station in Marseilles by a man with a knife who reportedly shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ before being shot dead by soldiers. The Nobel prize in physics went to three US scientists who detected gravitational waves.    CSH