The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 19 May 2016

Plus: Boris Johnson provokes ‘Hitler’ Brexit row, Old Trafford evacuated as fake bomb is found, Ukrain wins Eurovision


In the Queen’s Speech, the government made provision for bills against extremism and in favour of driverless cars, drones, commercial space travel and adoption. It proposed turning all prisons into academies or something similar and consolidating British rights while reducing the power of the House of Lords. The watchword was ‘life chances’. Boris Johnson MP said that the EU was an attempt to recover the continent’s lost ‘golden age’, under the Romans: ‘Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically.’ For his part, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that in the event of Britain leaving the EU, ‘Putin would be happy. I suspect al-Baghdadi [leader of the Islamic State] would be happy.’ Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence party, said that if the Remain side won a narrow victory in the referendum there would have to be another one. Brighton council took out of service a dustcart painted with the Union flag lest it be mistaken for a Brexit ‘battlebus’.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, told a conference on migration: ‘For the EU to offer visa-free access to 75 million Turks to stem the flow of migrants across the Aegean seems perverse, like storing gasoline next to the fire one is trying to extinguish.’ A report for the European Commission predicted that the visa arrangement with Turkey would mean ‘increased mobility into the Schengen area of criminals and terrorists’. The annual UK rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, fell to 0.3 per cent in April, from 0.5 per cent in March; as measured by the Retail Prices Index it fell to 1.3 from 1.6 per cent. China’s ICBC Standard Bank agreed to buy from Barclays a vault in London big enough to store 2,000 tons of gold.

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