The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 3 August 2017

Philip Hammond, Scaramucci and queues at the airport

Portrait of the week | 3 August 2017
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Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, appeared to wrest control of plans for Brexit from cabinet rivals, while Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was in Italy and Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, was in Australia. Mr Hammond foresaw a ‘transitional deal’ ending by June 2022, when the next general election is due. He said it would be ‘some time before we are able to introduce full migration controls between the UK and the European Union’. Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, insisted that the cabinet had not agreed to a three-year transition. Mr Johnson said he was unaware that Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, had announced a year-long inquiry about the costs and benefits of EU migration. Mrs May joined in the singing of ‘God Save the Queen’ in the bar of the Villa Cortine Palace Hotel in Lombardy, Italy.

Export orders rose in July at the fastest pace since April 2010, according to the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index. British Gas is to increase electricity prices by 12.5 per cent from 15 September, affecting more than three million customers. The AA sacked its executive chairman, Bob Mackenzie, on grounds of ‘gross misconduct’. Riot officers were sent for two days running to the Mount prison in Hertfordshire, where armed prisoners had taken over a wing. Rubbish piled up in the streets of Birmingham, where dustmen were on strike. There was chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick airports when a British Airways system failed again. The Duke of Edinburgh, aged 96, carried out his last solo public engagement.

The Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Prime Minister attended ceremonies at Tyne Cot cemetery, Ypres, to mark the centenary of the battle of Passchendaele. Police warned British heroin users to be ‘extra careful’ after the drug fentanyl was found in some samples of heroin; fentanyl has been blamed for the death of at least 60 people in the past eight months. England’s Moeen Ali took a hat-trick to secure victory against South Africa in the third Test at the Oval.


President Donald Trump of the United States announced on Twitter that General John Kelly, the head of homeland security, was his new chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus. Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director, had said to a reporter that ‘Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac’. Mr Scaramucci also boasted of reporting directly to the President, and was suddenly sacked within hours of General Kelly taking office. Senator John McCain cast the decisive vote to reject by 51 to 49 a bill repealing the Obama health care act. A day after North Korea tested a missile that could reach the American mainland, Mr Trump attacked the Chinese on Twitter, saying: ‘They do nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!’ President Vladimir Putin said that 755 staff must leave US diplomatic missions in Russia by 1 September, in retaliation for American sanctions. Russia warned Poland of sanctions if it removed monuments glorifying the Soviet victory in the second world war. Police raided a hotel in Lagos state and arrested 40 men suspected of homosexual acts.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister, from office because he had been dishonest in not disclosing earnings from a company in Dubai in his nomination papers for the 2013 general election; Mr Sharif was replaced by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi until the ruling party’s preferred candidate, Mr Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, could win a seat at a by-election. In Venezuela at least 10 people were killed during voting for a constituent assembly, intended by President Nicolás Maduro to change the constitution. Two Venezuelan opposition leaders, Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, were removed from house arrest and taken to a military prison.

In Afghanistan, an explosion at a mosque in Herat killed at least 20 people. Indian authorities seized a massive 3,300lb haul of heroin worth £420 million from a ship off Gujarat. In the United States, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis urged President Trump to declare a national emergency, saying in a draft report that ‘with approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11 every three weeks.’ Qatar filed an official complaint with the World Trade Organisation against a trade boycott by Saudi Arabia and its allies. British visitors to the European Union faced queues of up to four hours because of checks on passports from outside the Schengen Area.