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Portrait of the week | 15 September 2016

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Schools in England would have the right to select pupils by ability, under plans outlined by Theresa May, the Prime Minister. New grammar schools would take quotas of poor pupils or help run other schools, a Green Paper proposed. ‘We already have selection in our school system — and it’s selection by house price, selection by wealth. That is simply unfair,’ Mrs May said in a speech. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, said the idea that poor children would benefit from a return of grammar schools was ‘tosh’. Oversubscribed Catholic schools which wished to expand would be able to choose all their additional pupils on grounds of faith. Emma Nicholson, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, rejoined the Conservative party after 21 years as a Liberal Democrat, inspired by Mrs May’s education ideas. David Cameron, the former prime minister, ceased being an MP by accepting appointment as Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. The Commons foreign affairs committee blamed Mr Cameron for destabilising Libya.

Draft Boundary Commission proposals showed constituency changes by which the number of MPs would be cut from 533 to 501 in England and from 40 to 29 in Wales, with the total in the Commons coming down to 600. Labour would have won 27 fewer seats in the 2015 elections under the new boundaries. The Isle of Wight would become two constituencies and another constituency would straddle the border of Devon and Cornwall. Britain reached second place to China in the Paralympic medal table. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, accused Dermot Murnaghan, the television interviewer, of ‘sexism’ when he asked her if she could name the French foreign minister; she replied: ‘No and I’m not going to start answering your questions on this.’

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