The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 22 June 2017


The burnt-out skeleton of Grenfell Tower, the 24-storey block of 127 flats at Latimer Road, west London, became a focus of recrimination. Initially, kind-hearted community action provided food and clothing for survivors, but organisation by the authorities was not apparent. After five days the police estimate for those dead or missing presumed dead was put at 79. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that properties in Kensington should be ‘requisitioned if necessary’ to house the survivors. Supporters of Mr Corbyn denounced Theresa May, the Prime Minister, for talking only to emergency services when she visited the scene. Her advisers sent her back to a church, from which she was driven in a car with cries of ‘coward!’ from the crowd. The Queen visited the scene. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, called for a million protesters to take to the streets to oust Mrs May.

Negotiations on Brexit began with Britain accepting an EU timetable. The Queen’s Speech was delayed by two days until 21 June, meaning a quick getaway for the Queen to be in time for Royal Ascot. The Government had been negotiating with the Democratic Unionist Party to secure support from its 10 MPs. The parliamentary session was intended to last for two years, not one. Tim Farron resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats after being hounded to give details of his beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexual acts: ‘To be a leader, particularly of a progressive liberal party in 2017 and to live as a committed Christian and to hold faithful to the Bible’s teaching has felt impossible for me,’ he said. In a birthday honours list marked by an absence of political awards, J.K. Rowling, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Terence Conran and Delia Smith were among nine additions to the Companions of Honour.

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