The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 13 July 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: Tory MP in trouble for ‘racist’ language; Iraq claims victory over Islamic State in Mosul

Portrait of the week | 13 July 2017
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In her first big speech since the general election, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said: ‘I say to the other parties in the House of Commons… come forward with your own views and ideas.’ She was responding to a government-commissioned review of modern working practices by Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, and a former adviser to Tony Blair. The report was hostile to payment in cash and suggested that immigrant visas might insist on non-cash payment for work. Unemployment fell by 64,000 to 1.49 million. A leading article in the Evening Standard, edited by one of Mrs May’s enemies, George Osborne, commented on the position of David Davis: ‘For the first time in his political career he is trying to be loyal. But now the prospect of the premiership looms, and he has to decide whether to reach for the prize he has coveted for so long.’ Jacob and Helena Rees-Mogg announced the birth of their sixth child, Sixtus, named after a saintly pope. Scientists suggested that a cup of coffee prolongs life by nine minutes.

Mrs May withdrew the Conservative whip from Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot, for describing a Brexit without a deal as the ‘real nigger in the woodpile’. Viscount St Davids was found guilty of two charges of malicious communications regarding Gina Miller, the anti-Brexit campaigner, by posting a message on Facebook: ‘£5,000 for the first person to “accidentally” run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant.’ Asked in the Commons whether the EU should be told to ‘go whistle’ for payments from Britain for leaving, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said: ‘The sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate and I think to “go whistle” is an entirely appropriate expression.’ The King and Queen of Spain came on a state visit. Downing Street said that the state visit by President Donald Trump of the United States, planned for this summer, had been postponed.

The government announced an inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal that left at least 2,400 people dead in the 1970s and 80s. The Metropolitan Police completed the first part of its investigation into who died in the fire at Grenfell Tower in June, and said 336 people were believed to have been in the flats on the night of the fire, of whom 255 escaped. A British man, Luke Rutter, aged 22, from Birkenhead, was killed in Syria fighting against Isis. Silverstone said it would stop hosting the British Grand Prix after 2019. Kirstie Allsopp, the television presenter, said it was ‘disgusting’ to keep a washing machine in the kitchen.


The Iraqi government declared victory against Isis in Mosul, though sporadic fighting continued. About 7,000 new cases of cholera a day were reported in Yemen, where more than 300,000 have caught the disease since May. Government forces continued to fight the Maute group, affiliated to Isis, in Marawi on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Saudi Arabia executed four people convicted of terrorist attacks in the Qatif region of the oil-rich Eastern Province of the country, where its Shia minority live. A law that would have banned the sale of cattle for slaughter was suspended by the Supreme Court of India, which is the largest exporter of beef (mostly from buffalos) in the world.

The new French government said it was cutting €4.5 billion from public spending. The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban by Belgium on face veils does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, planned a cabinet reshuffle as his popularity dropped to its lowest since his return to office in 2012. The International Olympic Committee agreed to Paris and Los Angeles staging the 2024 and 2028 Games, but the cities could not agree which should have the first slot.

Donald Trump Jr, the son of the President of the United States, was found to have replied to an email offer ‘to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton]’ by saying: ‘If it’s what you say, I love it.’ At the G20 summit in Hamburg, 19 countries renewed their pledge to implement the Paris deal on climate change, which the United States repudiated. Employment in the United States rose by 222,000 in June. Peru recalled its ambassador to Ecuador in protest at the building of a wall along 1,000 yards of their border.                                                        CSH