The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 28 September 2017

Also in Portrait of Week: Uber appeals against London ban; US bombers fly close to North Korea

Portrait of the week | 28 September 2017
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Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, told the party conference that Labour was ‘on the threshold of power’. The party had been ‘war-game-type scenario-planning’ for things like ‘a run on the pound’, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said at a fringe meeting. Mr McDonnell had delighted conference-goers by denouncing Private Finance Initiatives: ‘We will bring existing PFI contracts back in-house. We’re bringing them back! We’re bringing them back!’ But next day, Jon Ashworth, the shadow health spokesman, said: ‘It’s only a handful which are causing hospital trusts across the country a significant problem.’ Mr McDonnell also promised to renationalise rail, water, energy and the Royal Mail. At a fringe event, speakers called for the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel to be ‘kicked out’ of the party. Tony Booth, father of Cherie Blair and best known for playing the son-in-law of Alf Garnett, who called him a ‘blasphemious Scouse git’, in Till Death Us Do Part, died aged 85.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, visited Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Downing Street. He said that her speech in Florence four days earlier had shown that ‘the philosophy of having a cake and eating it is finally at an end. At least I hope so’. But he added that the European Union would discuss its relations with the United Kingdom ‘once there is so-called sufficient progress’, but ‘there is no sufficient progress yet’. In her 5,357-word speech, Mrs May had proposed ‘an implementation period of around two years’ after March 2019, during which Britain would abide by EU rules, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and continue to allow free movement. ‘The UK will honour commitments it has made,’ she said, being understood to mean a payment of about £18 billion. McVitie’s reduced the number of Jaffa Cakes in a box from 12 to 10.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive of Uber, the private-hire system used by 40,000 cab drivers and 3.5 million customers in London, said it would appeal against a decision by Transport for London to deny it a new operating licence. Six men arrested over the Parsons Green Underground bomb were released and one was charged with attempted murder. The US Department of Commerce proposed a 220 per cent import tariff on jets made by Bombardier, one of Northern Ireland’s biggest employers. The Dowager Countess of Lucan, whose husband disappeared in 1974 after their nanny was murdered, died aged 80. Fifa lifted its ban on footballers wearing remembrance poppies.


President Donald Trump of the United States tweeted: ‘Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man [Kim Jong-un], they won’t be around much longer!’ Ri Yong-ho responded that ‘it was the US who first declared war on our country’. US bombers were flown close to North Korea’s east coast. Iran said it had successfully tested a missile with a range of 1,242 miles (enough to reach Israel), a week after Mr Trump had said at the UN that the nuclear agreement in 2015 between Iran and six world powers was an ‘embarrassment’ to America. Jake LaMotta, the former world middleweight boxing champion, died aged 95.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany gained a fourth term in office but saw her CDU-CSU alliance get the lowest vote since 1949, 33 per cent. The far-right Alternative für Deutschland became the third-largest party with 94 seats and 12.6 per cent, with a leading position in Saxony, with 27 per cent. Any coalition will take months to agree. President Emmanuel Macron of France called for a joint EU defence force. A couple in Krasnodar, Russia, were reported to have admitted murdering up to 30 people; a photograph dated 1999 showed a human head on a serving plate with fruit.

In defiance of the Iraqi government, Kurds voted for independence in a referendum held in the territory they control, with a turnout of 72 per cent. Catalonia prepared for a referendum on 1 October that it called binding, asking: ‘Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?’ Spain made arrests, declaring it illegal. King Salman of Saudi Arabia issued a decree allowing women to drive from next June. A 1,111-carat diamond, the size of a tennis ball, found in Botswana in 2015, was sold to Laurence Graff, a London jeweller, for £39.5 million.    CSH