The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 12 January 2017

Portrait of the week | 12 January 2017
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Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, proposed a limit on incomes: ‘I would like to see some kind of high earnings cap, quite honestly,’ he said on the BBC’s Today. The London Underground went on strike for a day and Southern railway workers for three. Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein resigned as the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland in protest against the mishandling of a multi-million-pound energy scheme by Arlene Foster, the Democratic Unionist Party first minister, who was forced out of office in the power-sharing administration by his move. Mr McGuinness, who has spent a decade in the post, was also said to be suffering from a rare form of heart disease. Peter Sarstedt, the singer-songwriter, best known for his hit ‘Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)?’, died aged 75.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said that Britain could not hang on to ‘bits of EU membership’. She added: ‘We’re leaving. We’re coming out. We’re not going to be a member of the EU any longer.’ This was taken to mean an end to membership of the single market, and the pound fell. In a speech a day later, Mrs May said that Brexit provided an ‘opportunity to fundamentally change Britain for the better’. She proposed what she called a ‘shared society’, exemplifying it by improved treatment of those with poor mental health. Downing Street called Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s new ambassador to the European Union, a ‘tough negotiator’ who would bring ‘energy’ to Brexit talks. The cost of decommissioning oil and gas fields in the North Sea would be £53 billion, a fifth of it falling on the government in the next five years, according to Wood Mackenzie, the market researchers, rather than the £30 billion total previously estimated.

Mike Adamson, the chief executive of the British Red Cross, said that his organisation was helping out at 20 accident and emergency hospital departments and said: ‘We have started talking about this as a humanitarian crisis.’ NHS figures showed that in England nearly a quarter of patients waited longer than four hours at A&E last week, with 18,000 waiting for more than four hours on trolleys for a bed, and 485 of these for more than 12 hours. A girl of 15 was charged with the murder of Katie Rough, aged seven, found dying in York. People who live near main roads have higher rates of dementia, according to research published in the Lancet. Shai Masot, a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy, was recorded by an undercover reporter for al-Jazeera saying last October that Sir Alan Duncan, a Foreign Office minister, was among ‘MPs I want to take down’. Clare Hollingworth, the foreign correspondent who filed a scoop on German tanks massing on the Polish border on 28 August 1939, died aged 105.

Abroad

Russia denied claims that it held compromising material on Donald Trump, the president-elect of America. Senator Jeff Sessions, 70, Mr Trump’s choice to be attorney general, told a Senate confirmation hearing that allegations he had once supported the Ku Klux Klan were ‘damnably false’. Some Democrat members of the House Judiciary Committee suggested that the appointment by President-elect Donald Trump of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as an adviser breached an anti-nepotism law. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda promoted his eldest son to become a special presidential adviser. Soldiers in Ivory Coast mutinied for two days over pay. In Germany’s annual Unword of the Year contest, a panel chose Volksverraeter, ‘traitor of the people’, as its least favourite word in vogue.

Four Israeli soldiers were killed by a Palestinian man (himself shot dead) who drove a lorry into a group in Jerusalem. At least eight people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on a police station in North Sinai, Egypt. A Saudi-led coalition airstrike was reported to have killed five people at a primary school in Yemen. A car bomb killed at least 11 people at a market in eastern Baghdad. At least 22 people were killed by two bombs near the Afghan parliament in Kabul. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, died aged 82. Switzerland won a case at the European Court of Human Rights obliging Muslim parents to send their daughters to mixed swimming lessons.

Om Puri, the Indian actor, died aged 66. Volunteer firemen sprayed water on crowds numbering 1.5 million to cool them during the annual procession of the Black Nazarene, a 16th-century image of Christ, in Manila. China’s state-owned Taiyuan Iron and Steel Co. launched a home-produced ballpoint pen tip that will make imports of the component, costing £14 million a year, no longer necessary.        CSH