The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 16 November 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: The Zimbabwe Army moves against Robert Mugabe and 4,000 Isis fighters are bussed out of Raqqa

Portrait of the week | 16 November 2017
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As the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill faced 470 amendments in its examination by a committee of the whole House, David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, promised that Parliament would be able to have a final take-it-or-leave-it say on the Brexit agreement, which would become law by an Act of Parliament. He said: ‘It’s a meaningful vote, but not meaningful in the sense that some believe meaningful [to be], which is that you can reverse the whole thing.’ A government amendment announced by Theresa May would incorporate in law the moment at which Britain would leave the EU: 11pm GMT on 29 March 2019. EU citizens who become British do not lose the right to bring a foreign-born spouse to the UK, the European Court of Justice ruled; British citizens do not enjoy this right. A conjunction of Jupiter and Venus appeared above Britain.

The annual rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, remained at 3 per cent; by the Retail Price Index it rose to 4 per cent from 3.9 a month earlier. Earnings rose by 2.2 per cent. Unemployment fell by 59,000 between July and September to 1.42 million. Scotland was to go ahead with minimum pricing for alcohol. Tesco’s £3.7 billion takeover of Booker, the food wholesaler, was provisionally approved by the Competition and Markets Authority. Pam Powell, the widow of Enoch Powell, died aged 91. Antonio Carluccio, the Italian chef, died aged 80. Jeremy Hutchinson, the barrister who took pleasure in defending people charged with obscenity, died aged 102. Stanley Johnson, the Foreign Secretary’s father, announced he was going to appear in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! along with Amir Khan the boxer and an actress from Coronation Street.

During her speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, Mrs May accused Russia of ‘meddling in elections and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defence’. Michael Bloomberg, who recently called Brexit the ‘single dumbest thing’ a country had ever done, told the Today programme: ‘London is always going to be the financial centre of Europe for the foreseeable future.’ Moped crime continued to be fashionable, with five machines attacking the Apple shop in Regent Street in the middle of the night and stealing electronic goods. Twenty-four hours earlier, another five mopeds rammed the front door of a new shop, Canada Goose, across the road and stole clothes.


Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati of the BBC discovered that the conquering Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish and Arab alliance, had bussed out of Raqqa about 4,000 Islamic State fighters and their families, with some of the evacuees later travelling to Turkey. Saad Hariri, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, who had resigned during a stay in Riyadh, said in a TV interview that he would return to his country to resign in a constitutional manner. A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck north-west Iran and neighbouring areas of Iraq, killing hundreds and destroying 12,000 houses. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described as ‘inhuman’ the EU policy of helping Libyan authorities intercept migrants and return them to detention.

After having a word with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Donald Trump of the United States commented on alleged Russian interference in the last US presidential campaign: ‘Every time he sees me he says I didn’t do that, and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.’ A North Korean soldier who defected to the South by crossing at the village of Panmunjom was in a critical state after being shot by North Korean troops. At least 165 people died from an outbreak of plague in Madagascar.

The army took control in Zimbabwe, motivated by a desire to keep Grace Mugabe, the wife of President Robert Mugabe, out of power.

Three-quarters of a million people, by police estimates, rallied in Barcelona in protest against Spain’s detention of Catalan independence leaders. In Australia, 61.6 per cent of those who voted in an advisory postal ballot backed the introduction of same-sex marriage. Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, declared Venezuela to be in ‘selective default’ after failing to make $200 million of foreign debt repayments. Scientists detected chemical signs of 8,000-year-old wine, the oldest yet found, in pottery jars near Tbilisi in Georgia.            CSH