The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 11 June 2015

Portrait of the week | 11 June 2015
Text settings


David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said of the EU referendum: ‘If you want to be part of the government, you have to take the view that we are engaged in an exercise of renegotiation to have a referendum and that will lead to a successful outcome.’ This caused a certain amount of uproar, with newspaper headlines saying things like ‘PM: Back me or I will sack you.’ Mr Cameron the next day said: ‘It’s clear to me that what I said yesterday was misinterpreted.’ His remarks followed the launch of a grouping called Conservatives for Britain (run by Steve Baker, the MP for Wycombe), which boasted the support of more than 50 MPs, who said they would vote to leave the EU unless Mr Cameron secured substantial changes to Britain’s relationship with it. Boris Johnson, a Tory MP once again, said he did not see why ministers should not campaign against EU membership. Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said that treaty change would be needed for some of the reforms Britain wanted. President Barack Obama of the United States said: ‘We very much are looking forward to the United Kingdom staying part of the European Union.’

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, is to cut 8,000 jobs in Britain by ‘natural attrition’, and 25,000 worldwide, nearly 10 per cent of its workforce. It said it would rename its high-street arm and was considering moving headquarters abroad. Tesco put up for sale its South Korean business Homeplus, valued at £4 billion. The government approved a £1 billion tidal lagoon at Swansea to generate electricity. People wanting to hire a car abroad found they needed a code number from the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency which was valid only for 72 hours. Wales is to ban e-cigarettes from enclosed public spaces and workplaces, including lorries.

Four Polish lorry drivers were arrested after 68 migrants were found trapped in a shipping container at the port of Harwich, Essex. Lenny Henry’s knighthood became common knowledge before the rest of the Queen’s birthday honours. A post-mortem examination found that Charles Kennedy, the former MP, had died of a haemorrhage related to his alcoholism. Kate Moss the model, 41, was heard to call an easyJet pilot a ‘basic bitch’ when she was leaving a flight from Turkey to which police had been called ‘due to the behaviour of a passenger on board’. Sol Campbell, the former footballer, said he was standing as a candidate to be Mayor of London, and so did Zac Goldsmith MP. Stephen Gough, known as the naked rambler, appeared on an Appeal Court video link from Winchester prison wearing no clothes.


HMS Bulwark, a British assault vessel, rescued 1,200 migrants from the Mediterranean and landed them landed in Catania, Sicily. Nearly 6,000 people were rescued from the sea last weekend. The UN held peace talks with two rival governments of Libya, where the Islamic State had gained a foothold in the coastal cities of Derna and Sirte. A rebel alliance took a Syrian army base near Harak, south of Damascus. A US judge ordered the release of Albert Woodfox, 68, who has spent 43 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana. A film starring Gerard Depardieu as Jules Rimet, the founder of Fifa, and Tim Roth as Sepp Blatter took $607 in its first weekend on release in the United States.

In the Turkish general election the ruling Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost the overall majority it had enjoyed for 13 years, securing 258 seats with 41 per cent of the votes, while the Halkların Demokratik Partisi (HDP) gained 80 seats with 13 per cent of the vote, thanks to support from Kurds and gays. A sixth person in South Korea died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), as the number infected rose to 87.

Greece negotiated with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund on reform plans after having ‘bundled up’ a €300 million debt to the IMF with others to be paid at the end of June. The G7, meeting near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, said fossil fuel emissions should not be allowed in any sector of the economy by the end of the century. ‘Only a mad person or someone in a dream could think that Russia could one day attack Nato,’ President Vladimir Putin of Russia told Il Corriere della Sera. Fire engulfed 16 tanks of oil at a depot near Kiev. Two nuns were rescued from a lift in Rome where they had been trapped for three days without food or water. CSH