The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 27 July 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: Donald Trump looks forward to trade deal with Brexit Britain; HS2 route to Leeds announced

Portrait of the week | 27 July 2017
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Theresa May, the Prime Minister, invited the media to take a photograph of her beginning a holiday with her husband Philip at Lake Garda before pressing on to Switzerland for some walking. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, resisted demands by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament Brexit negotiator, that the European Court of Justice should retain jurisdiction over EU migrants in Britain. BMW said a fully electric Mini is to be built at Cowley in Oxford, with motors made in Germany and shipped over for assembly. The government announced plans to ban new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040. The number of people over 90 with a driving licence reached 100,000. High street banks risked entering ‘a spiral of complacency’, said Alex Brazier, the Bank of England’s financial stability director, with personal loans rising much faster than incomes.

The number of crimes recorded by the police rose by 10 per cent in the year up to March 2017, with a rise in violent crime of 18 per cent and in robbery of 16 per cent; but the Crime Survey of England and Wales, based on people’s experiences of crime, showed a 7 per cent fall. In the past five years, 2,529 products shrank in size while being sold for the same price, the Office for National Statistics said; 614 products grew larger. People leaving London outnumbered those moving in from elsewhere in Britain by 93,000 in the year to June 2016, but its population continued to grow through births and arrivals from abroad. A fox killed eight Humboldt penguins at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey.

Law company Mishcon de Reya, which acted for Gina Miller in her challenge to the government over Article 50, said it was ‘in discussions with Keir Starmer about reappointing him as an adviser’; Sir Keir, shadow Brexit Secretary since last year, decided against the appointment. Sir Vince Cable was confirmed as leader of the Liberal Democrats after no one else applied for the job. The parents of an 11-month-old baby, Charlie Gard, told the High Court that they had abandoned their legal attempt to have him sent to America for experimental treatment, having been told that it was too late. Boots agreed to look at reducing the price of the morning-after pill in its shops after saying it was ‘truly sorry’ for having said it ‘would not want to be accused of incentivising inappropriate use’ by cutting the price. The government scrapped electrification of the Great Western Railway line between Cardiff and Swansea. The Office for National Statistics estimated that the UK economy expanded by 0.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.


Sean Spicer resigned as White House press secretary after six months. President Donald Trump said that he was working on a ‘major trade deal’ with Britain. Liam Fox, Britain’s International Trade Secretary, was in Washington discussing with officials the potential for a UK-US trade deal after Brexit. Michael Kors, the American fashion company, bought the British shoemaker Jimmy Choo for £896 million. In south-eastern France, 10,000 people were evacuated as wild fires spread. The Vatican turned off its 100 fountains amid a drought. Researchers at Brown University, Rhode Island, found that large basalt deposits on the Moon contain 0.05 per cent water by weight.

At talks in Paris, the two main regimes in Libya agreed to a conditional ceasefire; Fayez al-Sarraj, the prime minister recognised by the UN, is based in Tripoli, and the anti-Islamist General Khalifa Haftar is based in Tobruk. Israel removed metal-detector gates from the entrance to the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, installed after the murder of two Israeli police by Israeli Arabs. Only 60,000 of an estimated 400,000 Ethiopians working without documents in Saudi Arabia returned home before a deadline set by the Saudis. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said he was making ‘good progress’ after 11 weeks of treatment in London for an unspecified illness.

President Andrzej Duda of Poland surprised everyone by vetoing a law that allowed the justice minister to decide which supreme court judges should remain in office. Residents of Séméac in south-western France built a 20-yard wall across the entrance to a former hotel to prevent its use as a hostel for 85 migrants. The USS Thunderbolt fired warning shots at an approaching Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel in the Gulf. A cinema opened on Woody Island in the disputed Paracels, which China has been settling.