The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 7 September 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: North Korea’s explodes huge nuclear bomb; Hurricane Irma threatens Florida

Portrait of the week | 7 September 2017
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On being asked if she meant to lead the Conservatives into the next election, due in 2022, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said: ‘Yes. I’m in this for the long term.’ Echoing Peter Mandelson’s remark in 2001, she said: ‘I’m not a quitter.’ Research by Conservative Home found that 52 per cent of Conservative party members wanted her gone before 2022. A memo from Lynton Crosby sent in April, before Mrs May called an early election, turned up in the Mail on Sunday: ‘Clearly a lot of risk involved with holding an early election, and there is a real need to nail down the “why” for doing so now.’ The Duchess of Cambridge announced that she was expecting her third child. Meghan Markle, the actress who is a friend of Prince Harry, told Vanity Fair: ‘We’re two people who are really happy and in love.’

The government presented its European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to the House of Commons. Dustmen in Birmingham resumed a strike which had been suspended. Disorder at HM Prison Birmingham led to 28 prisoners being transferred elsewhere. The online gambling company 888 is to pay a penalty of £7.8 million after failing to protect vulnerable customers. The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who restored the fortunes of Goodwood, died aged 87. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former Archbishop of Westminster, died aged 85.

As the British government prepared to relax its 1 per cent cap on public-sector pay rises for people like nurses and teachers, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said that the cap would be scrapped there next year and new petrol cars phased out by 2032. At least five frigates are to be built in United Kingdom shipyards. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, who is vegetarian, denied reports that he was planning to go vegan. A five-year-old boy in Southend, Essex, was surprised to find a 3ft python in the lavatory when he lifted the lid; the snake, thought to have swum up the U-bend, made a full recovery.


North Korea tested a nuclear bomb underground at least three times the size of the one that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. It was said to be a hydrogen bomb that could be carried by a long-range missile. James Mattis, the US defence secretary, said: ‘Any threat to the United States or its territories — including Guam — or our allies will be met with a massive military response.’ Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said North Korea was ‘begging for war’. President Donald Trump of the United States tweeted: ‘The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea’ — that would include China. President Vladimir Putin of Russia said that further sanctions against North Korea would be ‘useless’ as ‘they’d rather eat grass than give up their nuclear programme’. A man died after running into a fire at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s negotiator on Brexit, tried to clarify, by means of a tweet, some remarks he had made. He was reported to have said: ‘There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market and it hasn’t been explained to the British people. We intend to teach people… what leaving the single market means.’ Two days later he tweeted: ‘I said: #Brexit = occasion to explain single market benefits in all countries, incl my own. We do not want to “educate” or “teach lessons”.’ President Emmanuel Macron of France outlined plans for labour reform, including provisions to allow a business to reach agreement with the majority of its workforce on hours and pay without being bound by a national industry agreement. Lego was to cut 1,400 jobs as profits fell.

About 40 million people were affected by floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. A powerful hurricane called Irma tore across the Caribbean towards Florida. More than 35,000 Muslim Rohingya refugees crossed from Burma to Bangladesh in a day, fleeing violence against them in Rakhine state. In Kenya, the Supreme Court annulled August’s election results. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said that this was no time to talk about expanding the customs agreement that Turkey shares with the European Union; Germany says that Turkey is holding 12 Germans on political grounds. The owners of a house in the Zavod Voskresensky district of Russia returned from seasonal work in Nizhny Novgorod to find that a road had been built through it.        CSH