The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 11 June 2015


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.

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