The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 16 February 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: Brexit Bill approved; Donald Trump’s travel ban overturned; Lloyds of London bans drinking

Portrait of the week | 16 February 2017
Text settings


The Queen opened a new National Cyber Security Centre in London. Britain’s contribution to Nato has fallen below the promised 2 per cent to 1.98 per cent of gross domestic product, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, because GDP has grown. The annual rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Prices Index rose to 1.8 per cent in January, from 1.6 in December; by the new index to be used from March, called CPIH, which includes some housing costs, inflation had already reached 2 per cent. Unemployment fell by 7,000. Joe Root, aged 26, was made captain of England.

A YouGov poll for the Times put Labour in third place among working-class voters at 20 per cent with Ukip at 23 per cent and the Conservatives at 39. Paul Nuttall, the leader of Ukip, said that past claims on his website that he had lost ‘close personal friends’ in the Hillsborough disaster were incorrect, although it was true he had been at the match, aged 12. James Duddridge, a Tory backbencher, tabled a motion of no confidence in John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons. MPs had a week off after voting for the Second Reading of the Brexit Bill by 494 to 122. Travelling on the Underground exposes commuters to more than eight times as much air pollution as experienced by those who drive to work, according to a Surrey University study. The steam locomotive Tornado hauled timetabled services from Appleby to Skipton for three days, delighting 6,000 passengers.

An investigation by BBC Panorama found widespread drug use at HM Prison Northumberland. A life prisoner who calls himself Charles Bronson, aged 64, who has been in jail for 40 years, proposed in Wakefield prison to Paula Williamson, aged 36, who has appeared in Coronation Street. She said: ‘He’s so eccentric, but so am I. It’s a perfect match.’ A video on Facebook showed 100 people in a mass brawl at the Albany Palace pub in Trowbridge, Wilts, run by J.D. Wetherspoon. In 48 hours it was viewed more than half a million times. Lloyd’s of London banned staff from drinking from nine to five.


Michael Flynn resigned as the US national security adviser in the face of allegations that he had discussed American sanctions with the Russian ambassador before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, contrary to the Logan Act of 1799, which prohibits diplomacy by private persons but has never been invoked. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Mr Trump’s attempt to reinstate his executive order imposing a 90-day ban on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering America, and a 120-day bar on all refugees from entering. Mr Trump told reporters he was considering a ‘brand new order’. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, visited President Trump but said: ‘The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country.’ Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, raised his eyes to heaven when Mr Trump released his hand after shaking it for 19 seconds, at one point strangely yanking it towards himself. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, met Mr Trump. Yale University renamed Calhoun College because John C. Calhoun (1782–1850), the seventh US vice-president, was blamed for supporting slavery; instead the college is to be named after Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992), a naval computer scientist.

North Korea tested a solid-fuel land-based ballistic missile. Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, was killed at Kuala Lumpur airport by two ‘poison- wielding’ North Korean woman agents. The government of Georgia claimed that a plot to poison a senior figure in the Orthodox Church, perhaps the patriarch, had been thwarted by the arrest of a priest. In the province of Idlib, Syria, dozens were killed in fighting between two Islamist movements: Tahrir al-Sham, formerly an al-Qaeda affiliate, and Jund al-Aqsa, regarded as close to the Islamic State.

Shigenori Shiga resigned as the chairman of Toshiba, the Japanese multinational company, as it reported losses of £2.73 billion, much of it related to United States nuclear power provision. More than 180,000 people were ordered to leave the area below the 770ft-high Oroville Dam in California after an overflow channel was eaten away by water. Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, flew to The Gambia and said he was ‘very pleased’ that it intended to rejoin the Commonwealth.          CSH