The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 29 June 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: Corbynmania at Glastonbury; EU fines Google €2.42 billion

Portrait of the week | 29 June 2017
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In preparation for the vote on the Queen’s Speech, the Government, after weeks of negotiations, bought the support of the Democratic Unionist Party in the House of Commons by promising to spend a billion or two pounds in Northern Ireland on broadband and other good things. In reply to expostulations from the Opposition, Nigel Dodds, the parliamentary leader of the DUP, told the Commons: ‘We might publish all the correspondence and conversations we had in 2010 with Labour front-benchers, and in 2015 with Labour front-benchers, and indeed also the Scottish National party, because some of the faux outrage we have heard is hypocrisy.’ Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, made a speech at Glastonbury and inspired repeated chants of ‘Ohhh, Jeremy Corbyn.’ A shopkeeper in North Tyneside who took down an orange sign reading ‘Singhbury’s’ when Sainsbury’s complained has put up another reading ‘Morrisinghs’.

Former chief superintendent David Duckenfield was charged with the manslaughter of 95 people at the Hillsborough disaster and five more people were charged with other offences. The number confirmed dead, or missing presumed dead, in the fire of June 14 at Grenfell Tower in West London remained at 79; some tenants were said to be reluctant to come forward because of unlawful sub-letting. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, said: ‘Those individuals — 79 so far and there will be more — were murdered by political decisions that were taken over recent decades.’ The Government said that safety tests would be carried out on cladding from 600 other buildings, and all the first few dozen samples failed. But the tests used different criteria from building regulations. Testing of cladding at hospitals and schools was proposed. Camden council had ordered tenants from 644 flats in four tower blocks to leave as night fell on unspecified grounds of safety; dozens resisted the council’s cajolery.

The Government sketched its proposals for letting EU citizens remain in the United Kingdom after Brexit; in response, Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator tweeted: ‘More ambition, clarity and guarantees needed’. In the face of rising consumer credit, the Bank of England ordered banks to set aside an extra £11.4 billion in capital. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, announced a delay in plans for another referendum on independence. A boy aged 16 was charged with the rape of a girl aged eight in Nuthurst Park, Moston, Manchester. A cyber attack on Parliament was reported to have affected about 90 email accounts. The Sovereign Grant to the Queen from the Treasury is to rise by £6 million to £82.2 million, while the sum given to the state by the Crown Estate rose by £24.7 million to £328.8 million. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, began sea trials. Michael Bond, CBE, the creator of Paddington Bear, died aged 91.


America warned President Bashar al-Assad of Syria that his military would ‘pay a heavy price’ if it launched a poison gas attack, which it suspected was being prepared. Iraqi infantry fought to take the Old City of Mosul from the Islamic State. An American-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters fought to capture Raqqa in Syria from the Islamic State. The numbers infected in the cholera outbreak in Yemen rose to more than 200,000, with over 1,300 deaths. Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria began to dig a 17-mile trench round the University of Maiduguri to prevent attacks by Boko Haram, the violent Islamist movement. Johan Gustafsson, a Swedish hostage held by al Qaeda in Mali since 2011, was freed.

Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel laureate jailed for calling for democracy in China was taken from prison to a hospital because he was suffering from terminal liver cancer. At least 150 people in Bahawalpur, eastern Pakistan, were killed as they gathered petrol from a crashed tanker when it suddenly exploded. The Republicans in the US Senate delayed a vote on their healthcare bill until after 4 July. The United States suspended imports of beef from Brazil, the world’s biggest exporter, over ‘recurring concerns about the safety of products’. President Michel Temer of Brazil was charged with accepting bribes from the boss of a big meat-packing company.

Companies round the globe reported a ransomware cyber attack. Google was fined 2.42 billion euros by the European Commission for promoting its shopping comparison service at the top of search results. Melbourne’s population has grown by 12 per cent in five years, reaching 4.4 million, census results revealed, catching up Sydney’s, which has grown by 10 per cent in five years, and is now 4,823,991.           CSH