The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 6 September 2018

Portrait of the Week - 6 September 2018
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Mark Carney kindly said he would stay on as governor of the Bank of England if it helped the government ‘smooth’ the Brexit transition. Lord King of Lothbury, Mervyn King, a former governor of the Bank of England, said that ‘incompetent’ preparation for Brexit had left Britain without a credible bargaining position. Paul Pester announced his resignation as chief executive of TSB after seven years, following the computing failure at the bank. Chris Evans announced on air that he would be leaving the Radio 2 breakfast show at the end of the year; he is to host Virgin Radio’s equivalent. David Watkin, the architectural historian, died aged 77. Lord Melchett , the former chairman of Greenpeace, died aged 70.

With the return of Parliament after the summer recess, Brexit entangled all. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, declared: ‘I will not be pushed into accepting compromises on the Chequers proposals that are not in our national interest.’ Nick Boles, a former minister, said: ‘I am afraid that her policy has failed and I can no longer support it.’ Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, said that ‘in adopting the Chequers proposals, we have gone into battle with the white flag fluttering’. Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator on Brexit, said of the Chequers plan: ‘I strongly oppose the British proposal.’ Another former Conservative minister, John Whittingdale, went to visit Mr Barnier and reported back that the EU ‘just can’t accept’ the Chequers plan, but that Mr Barnier had instead been open to a free trade deal of ‘unprecedented closeness’. The summer of 2018 was as hot as those of 1976, 2003 and 2006 in the UK, the Met Office said, but in England this summer was even hotter than in 1976.

Labour’s National Executive Committee adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, but decided to add a rider on anti-Israel statements. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had favoured allowing members of the party to describe ‘Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist.’ The JC9 — candidates on the Momentum slate – were all elected to the Labour NEC, including Peter Willsman, who had apologised after suggesting that Jewish ‘Trump fanatics’ were behind accusations of anti-Semitism in Labour. Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley were elected joint leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales after its MP, Caroline Lucas, decided not to stand. Alastair Cook, England’s highest Test run-scorer, announced he would retire from the international game after the current Test series against India, which England took after a victory by 60 runs in the fourth Test.


President Mauricio Macri of Argentina said that half the country’s ministries would be abolished in an attempt to stem the economic crisis as the peso slid. In Turkey, inflation rose and the lira fell. South Africa’s economy went into recession for the first time since 2009. Officials from 13 countries met in Quito, Ecuador, to discuss how to deal with the emigration of tens of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing economic collapse. About 32,800 migrants have reached Spain since the beginning of the year, the International Organization for Migration said, most of them by sea, with 602 sub-Saharans managing to get over or through the fence at Ceuta from Morocco.About 8,000 protesters demonstrated at the weekend in Chemnitz in eastern Germany, for and against immigration. Emily O’Reilly, the EU Ombudsman, cited four instances of maladministration in the appointment of Martin Selmayr as the Secretary-General of the EC in February.

Rebel-held positions in Idlib province were bombed, reportedly by Russian planes, as Syrian government troops gathered for an offensive. In Libya, hundreds of families fled a week of factional fighting in Tripoli. ‘The French navy is ready to step in if more clashes break out’ between French fishermen and British boats over scallops, said Stephane Travert, the French agriculture minister.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, was disinvited from the New Yorker’s annual literary festival. Sony ended its repair service for the PlayStation 2 console, 18 years after it first went on sale in Japan. Passengers ran for cover as glass fell from the roof of Kyoto railway station during the most severe typhoon for 25 years, which left tens of thousands without electricity. Fire destroyed the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, said to have held 20 million artefacts.  CSH