The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 12 March 2015

Portrait of the week | 12 March 2015
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Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said that ‘a huge burden of responsibility’ lay with those who acted as apologists for those who committed acts of terror. Parliament approved new obligations for passenger carriers to restrict the travel to or from Britain of people named as a terrorist threat. The Charity Commission required the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Roddick Foundation to give unequivocal assurances that they had ceased funding Cage, the advocacy group known for speaking up for Mohammed Emwazi, the British jihadist involved in videos of Islamic State murders. England were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, found himself expecting a government surplus of £30 billion by 2019-20, instead of the £23 billion he forecast in the autumn statement. The pound rose against the euro, reaching €1.40 for the first time since December 2007. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, repeated his refusal to take part in more than one televised debate with another party leader. Rona Fairhead was urged to resign as head of the BBC Trust by Margaret Hodge during a session of the Commons public accounts committee which questioned Miss Fairhead’s role as a non-executive chairman of part of HSBC, a bank that has been accused of having aided tax evasion in Switzerland. The BBC suspended Jeremy Clarkson after a ‘fracas’ with a producer. The owner of an Irish setter called Jagger said she was convinced the dog had been killed by poisoned beef fed to it in Birmingham while competing at Crufts.

The army could be cut to 50,000 in the next Parliament, the Daily Telegraph reported. The Department of Work and Pensions could lose 30,000 jobs under Conservative plans, the Financial Times reported, or 20,000 under Labour. The government issued orders for 11-year-oldsto be taught about sexual consent, in obedience to plans by the Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education Association, an organisation set up in 2006, which is campaigning for sex lessons to be legally obligatory. Lord Molyneaux of Killead, the Ulster Unionist politician James Molyneaux, died, aged 94. The Queen named a 3,600-passenger P&O ship Britannia, breaking a bottle of Sussex wine on her bows. A policeman in Grantham, Lincolnshire, threatened to confiscate a four-year-old girl’s bicycle if her parents allowed her to ride it on the pavement.


Five ethnic Chechens apparently loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruler of Chechnya and an ally of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, appeared in court in Moscow in connection with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader; security sources said that another suspect threw a grenade at officers and blew himself up with another. Mr Putin admitted for the first time that the annexation of Crimea was ordered after the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine, weeks before a referendum on self-determination in Crimea. Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, called for the creation of a European Union army to face up to Russia. Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, flew to Brussels to encourage the leaders of Nato countries to meet their defence spending commitments of 2 per cent of GDP.

The Islamic State was reported to have demolished remains of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq. The movement also posted a video purporting to show a boy shooting in the head an Arab Israeli captive. Iraqi forces allied with Shia militiamen supported by Iran laid siege to Tikrit. US-led coalition aircraft bombed an oil refinery in northern Syria run by Islamic State. A 12-year-old Cairo schoolboy died after being beaten for not having done his homework. The Turkish lira fell to new lows against the American dollar. A Belgian coach driver, relying on his GPS machine, drove 50 skiers to La Plagne in the snowless foothills of the Pyrenees instead of La Plagne 400 miles away in the Alps.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, which represents eurozone finance ministers, put pressure on Greece to agree to detailed reforms; ‘We have to stop wasting time,’ he said. The family of Alberto Nisman (the special prosecutor found dead in his home in January, hours before he was due to testify in Congress against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina) said that independent tests found that he had been murdered. Venezuelans in large numbers tweeted photographs of empty shelves in supermarkets, reflecting national shortages. Cologne’s Anthony Ujah apologised to a goat called Hennes after grabbing it by the horns while celebrating a goal. CSH