The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 10 August 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: Tesco abandons the 5p carrier bag and Ruth Davidson mocks Theresa May

Portrait of the week | 10 August 2017
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British negotiators are prepared to pay up to £36 billion to the EU to settle the so-called divorce bill for Brexit, according to the Sunday Telegraph. By voting for Brexit, ‘the old have comprehensively shafted the young’, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, aged 74, wrote in the Mail on Sunday, ‘imposing a world view coloured by nostalgia for an imperial past on a younger generation much more comfortable with modern Europe.’ Lord Neuberger, who will retire as president of the Supreme Court next month, said that the government should ‘express clearly what the judges should do about decisions of the European Court of Justice after Brexit.’ Ten platforms at Waterloo station in London, which deals with 272,000 journeys daily, were closed until 28 August for extension works costing £800 million. In a jocular reference to the worst admitted crime of Theresa May, the Prime Minister, of running through a field of wheat, Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was photographed running through a field of barley. The Federal Cedar prepared to sail from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, with 34,564 tons of barley, more than 10 per cent of the British crop, bound for drought-stricken southern Spain.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, after being challenged to condemn the Maduro regime in Venezuela, said: ‘The people who have died, either those on the streets or security forces that have been attacked by people on the street — all of those lives are terrible for the loss of them.’ Cars and a derelict building in Belfast were set on fire by rioters reacting to the confiscation of material for bonfires to mark the anniversary of internment on 9 August 1971. Nadeem Muhammad, aged 43, was found guilty in Manchester of trying to smuggle a pipe bomb on to a plane to Bergamo in January. The government appointed Professor Dieter Helm of New College, Oxford, to produce an independent review of energy prices by October. The barred grass snake, Natrix helvetica, was declared a different species from the common grass snake, Natrix natrix, bringing to four the species of snake found in Britain. Tesco abandoned the 5p plastic bag in favour of a 10p ‘bag for life’.

At Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, donated to it by the late R.W. Ketton-Cremer, who it insisted was homosexual, the National Trust told volunteers to wear rainbow badges on pain of being hidden from sight; after a small rebellion and much publicity, the Trust relented. Robert Hardy, the actor, died aged 92. David Cameron, the former prime minister, was photographed holding a lighted cigarette.


Because of North Korea’s continuing missile tests, the United Nations Security Council unanimously agreed new sanctions against it, meant to prevent a third of its $3 million-worth exports of coal and other goods. In a thoughtful leader, the state-run North Korean daily Rodong Sinmun said that if America wasn’t careful it would be ‘catapulted into an unimaginable sea of fire’. North Korea made threatening noises about the American territory of Guam. President Donald Trump of the United States broke off a 17-day holiday at his golf club at Bedminster, New Jersey, to say that North Korea would be met by ‘fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before’. The Kremlin provided photographs of President Vladimir Putin fishing with no shirt on in the Tuva area of southern Siberia.

A day after being sworn in, the Venezuelan constituent assembly sacked the country’s chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega; the assembly also decided to extend its session in power from six months to two years. At his swearing-in ceremony for a second term, President Hassan Rouhani warned President Trump that he ran the risk of political suicide if he scrapped America’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Google sacked an employee, James Damore, for ‘advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace’; he had written a memo suggesting that ‘the abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes’.

An Iraqi court sentenced 27 men to be hanged for their part in the massacre of 1,700 soldiers by the Islamic State at the former US base of Camp Speicher, near Tikrit, in 2014. Glen Campbell, the country singer, died aged 81. Italian police questioned 15 volunteer firemen in southern Sicily accused of starting fires in order to get paid to put them out.      CSH