The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 3 March 2016

Portrait of the week | 3 March 2016
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An official analysis by the Cabinet Office said that if Britain left the EU it would lead to a ‘decade of uncertainty’. Opponents of Britain remaining in the EU called the report a ‘dodgy dossier’. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the economy would suffer a ‘profound economic shock’ if Britain left, echoing a communiqué of the G20 which referred to ‘the shock of a potential UK exit’. Boris Johnson revised his suggestion that a vote to leave could bring about a better deal from Brussels; ‘Out is out,’ he told the Times. Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, declared that ministers opposing government policy on the referendum should not be shown government papers on the matter. Branches of McDonald’s and KFC banned under-18s from eating inside because of disturbances in Stoke-on-Trent.

Barclays announced a fall in profits and reduced its stake in Africa. An extra £8 billion in income tax was raised by cutting the highest rate from 50p to 45p, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs cited by George Osborne. Lord Feldman, the chairman of the Conservative party, hatched plans to axe hundreds of local party associations, to be replaced by regional ‘hubs’. Tony Blackburn, the disc jockey, aged 73, was sacked by the BBC after the director-general, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, said that his evidence ‘fell short of the standard required’ by the inquiry by Dame Janet Smith into sex abuse carried out at the BBC by Jimmy Savile. Amazon struck a deal to sell goods from the supermarket Morrisons. A meteor momentarily lit up skies over Aberdeenshire.

Three brothers of Pakistani heritage who raped and sexually exploited 15 teenage girls in Rotherham were jailed for 35, 25 and 19 years. The son of another convicted member of their gang was found guilty of witness intimidation. Two men were jailed for 32 years and 14 years for killing Mushin Ahmed, aged 81, in a racially motivated attack in Rotherham. Adil Khan, 46, jailed in 2012 for eight years, with eight other men, for offences against girls in Rochdale, appealed against a decision to strip him of UK citizenship and deport him. A man was charged with the murder of Jalal Uddin, 64, a prominent member of a mosque in Rochdale, who died after being found with head injuries in a street in the town. The Nelson Packaging factory in Nelson, Lancashire, went into administration, with the loss of 40 jobs, blaming its failure on the 5p plastic bag charge.


Migrants broke down a steel fence on the border of Macedonia as police repelled them with tear gas. More than 8,000 were stuck on the Greek side with little food. The UN said Europe was ‘on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis’. Greece recalled its ambassador to Austria, which had held a meeting with Balkan states on the migrant crisis to which Greece was not invited. Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece, said: ‘What we refuse to do is accept the transformation of our country into a permanent warehouse of souls.’ French police used tear gas as more than 1,000 migrants were evicted from part of the camp at Calais known as the Jungle.

In the Super Tuesday primaries in 11 of the United States Donald Trump won a majority of the nominations for Republican presidential candidate and Hillary Clinton a majority for the Democrats. In the Iranian elections, reformist supporters of President Hassan Rouhani made gains, winning all 30 seats in Tehran; another round of voting takes place next month. In the Irish elections, Fine Gael and Labour failed to secure another coalition. Gianni Infantino was chosen as the new president of Fifa in succession to Sepp Blatter. A jury in Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who claimed her death was linked to use of the company’s talcum powder.

The ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria was reported to have led to a reduction in violence, despite violations on both sides. In Iraq, the Islamic State said it was behind a suicide bomb that killed at least 38 people at a Shia funeral at Muqdadiya, 50 miles northeast of Baghdad. On another day Islamic State killed at least 70 in Sadr City, a Shia area of Baghdad. The will of Osama bin Laden, asking his family to spend his fortune of £21 million on ‘jihad, for the sake of Allah’, was published by the United States, which had found the document when it killed him at Abbottabad in Pakistan.