The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 22 October 2015


Xi Jinping, the ruler of China, came, with his wife Peng Liyuan, a folk singer, for a state visit to Britain, to address both Houses of Parliament and to stay at Buckingham Palace. Tata Steel announced the loss of 900 jobs in Scunthorpe and 270 in Lanarkshire. This followed the liquidation of SSI, Britain’s second-largest steel-maker, and the appointment of administrators for parts of Caparo Industries steel operations. The fall of global steel prices and the dumping of steel by China were blamed; David Cameron, the Prime Minister, promised in the Commons to raise that with Mr Xi. Craig Joubert, the South African referee, sprinted from the field without shaking the captains’ hands at the end of the game that saw Australia go through by one point after a penalty was awarded against Scotland. The World Rugby body ruled that the referee had made the wrong decision and there ‘should have been a scrum to Australia’.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, made a speech reflecting the Bank’s study of how Britain’s membership of the European Union affects its ability to manage the economy. The government put forward a ‘counter-extremism strategy’, a bran-tub of measures to include an investigation into how Sharia is applied in Britain; it also proposed ‘empowering the UK’s Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish communities, so they can have platforms from which to speak out against the carnage Isis is conducting in their countries’. Theresa Villiers, the Northern Ireland Secretary, said that an official assessment had found that the IRA army council still existed, but had a ‘wholly political focus’.

The government defended cuts to tax credits. Boris Johnson, a rival to George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he wanted ‘to make sure that hard-working people on low incomes are protected, and I’m sure the Chancellor can do that’.

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