The Spectator

Portrait of the Week - 8 September 2016

Portrait of the Week - 8 September 2016
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David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, made his first statement to the Commons and said that if membership of a single market meant having to give up control of United Kingdom borders, ‘that makes it very improbable’. The official spokesman for Theresa May, the Prime Minister, who was away in China, disagreed, claiming that Mr Davis was merely ‘setting out his opinion’. ‘Saying something is probable or improbable,’ she said, ‘I don’t think is necessarily a policy.’ Speaking in China about freedom of movement after Brexit, Mrs May said: ‘I want a system where the government is able to decide who comes into the country — I think that’s what the British people want. A points-based system means that people come in automatically if they just meet the criteria.’ The RMT union held a two-day strike on the Southern railway network. The annual profits of Southern’s owners, Go-Ahead, rose by 26.8 per cent to £99.8 million.

Keith Vaz, a Labour MP since 1987, resigned as chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee after a Sunday newspaper reported that he had spent some time with a couple of rent boys at a flat he owns. The Rt Revd Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham, said that he was homosexual and in a ‘long-term and committed’ relationship; he had decided to speak of his private life before a Sunday newspaper could publish a planned exposure. The Rt Revd David Jenkins, after whose consecration as Bishop of Durham in 1984 York Minster was struck by lightning, died aged 91. Richard Neville, the co-founder in 1967 of the magazine Oz, died aged 74. The National Trust launched a public appeal for £7.1 million to buy personal objects that had belonged to Sir Winston Churchill and have been on long-term loan from his heirs at Chartwell.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index for services rose sharply to 52.9 in August from a seven-year low in July of 47.4. In turn, the pound rose to a seven-week high against the dollar. The Ministry of Defence is to sell 13 sites, on which 12,565 houses are to be built by 2020, according to Mark Lancaster, a defence minister. Anjem Choudary was sentenced to five and a half years in jail for inviting support for the Islamic State. A law came into force obliging anyone watching programmes on BBC iPlayer to pay £145.50 for a TV licence; the BBC pretended it could tell who was watching.


The Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, which is sceptical about immigrants and Islam, beat Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party into third place in elections in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Lorry drivers blockaded the motorway into Calais in protest at threats from organised gangs and migrants attempting to board vehicles to Britain. Work began on a 13ft concrete wall at Calais, for which Britain will contribute £2 million. Paris is to open a camp in October for 400 homeless men seeking asylum, and another camp for women and children by the end of the year. On a single day, 15 bodies were recovered and more than 2,700 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya, according to the Italian coastguard. Niger banned the export of donkeys, which are often turned into anti-ageing creams abroad, after 80,000 had been sold this year.

Turkish forces suffered their first fatalities a fortnight after moving into Syria when two soldiers were killed by an Islamic State rocket. Thirty pro-democracy candidates were elected to the 70-seat Legislative Council in Hong Kong. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who died in 1997, was canonised by Pope Francis in a ceremony at St Peter’s. Wild fires near Javea in Spain drove more than 1,000 people from their homes. A rocket operated by the SpaceX company exploded at Cape Canaveral before it was due to launch a satellite to deliver broadband internet coverage in sub-Saharan Africa.

President Barack Obama of the United States cancelled a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines at an Asean summit after he had said: ‘Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum.’ Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, said that Iranians ‘are not Muslims’, adding: ‘They are the sons of the Magi.’ He was responding to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who accused Saudis of ‘murder’ in the stampede at the Hajj last year. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, arriving at Harare airport from Dubai, countered rumours of his death by saying: ‘Yes, I was dead, it’s true I was dead. I resurrected as I always do.’      CSH