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


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.

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