The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 24 August 2017


Big Ben ceased sounding for a planned period of four years, thanks to a decision by the Speaker and two Commons committees. The silence was attributed to the need to protect the hearing of workmen restoring the Elizabeth Tower, though experts on the bell and on previous restorations saw no reason for it. A game of hunt-the-issue was begun when Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, was obliged to resign as shadow minister for women and equalities after writing a piece for the Sun that began: ‘Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls.’ The Pensions Regulator charged Dominic Chappell with failing to provide information it asked for in its investigation into the sale of BHS, the retail chain that he bought from Sir Philip Green for £1 in 2015. A Wiltshire farmer thanked firemen who saved 18 piglets from fire six months ago by delivering sausages made from them for a fire-station barbecue.

The government recorded a budget surplus in July for the first time since 2002, thanks to tax receipts from the self-employed. The United Kingdom would no longer be under the ‘direct jurisdiction’ of the European Court of Justice after Brexit, according to a government paper. Lidl pipped Waitrose to the position of seventh biggest supermarket chain, after Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi and Co-op. Upon opening its first store on the Isle of Wight, Asda put on sale 10,000 commemorative shopping bags bearing the legend ‘Isle of White’.

The National Grid pointed out that, as domestic circuitry is currently arranged, putting the kettle on while charging an electric car would cause a fuse to blow. Bruce Forsyth, the television game-show presenter, died aged 89. The Duke of Beaufort died aged 89. Brian Aldiss, the science-fiction writer, died aged 92.

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