The Spectator

Portrait of the week: A no-confidence vote, a marginal win and the Queen’s Jubilee

Portrait of the week: A no-confidence vote, a marginal win and the Queen’s Jubilee
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Boris Johnson won a vote of confidence in him as prime minister among Conservative MPs by 211 votes to 148 (58.8 per cent in favour, compared with 63 per cent in favour of Theresa May in 2018). No more such votes are allowed for a year. Workmen had still been dismantling the staging in front of Buckingham Palace from the Jubilee celebrations when Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, announced that, as at least 54 MPs had written letters requesting it, there would be a secret ballot on the question. Boris Johnson had been booed by people in the crowd as he walked up the steps of St Paul’s with his wife Carrie for the service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. A memorandum had circulated last weekend saying that ‘MPs are having to defend the indefensible, not for the sake of the party, but for one man’.

The nation had come together, in uncertain weather, to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to see the soldiers who had been Trooping the Colour, and then witnessed a flypast, with Typhoons spelling out the figure 70. But she experienced ‘discomfort’, the Palace said, and was unable to attend the service at St Paul’s. Huge crowds filled the Mall waving little Union flags and cheering. Millions attended street parties. The Queen was filmed having tea with Paddington Bear and taking a marmalade sandwich out of her handbag. She appeared again on the balcony with her heir the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, at the end of a pageant procession of the Gold State Coach, built in 1760, and 10,000 people with Morris Minors, Daleks, Sir Cliff Richard and Basil Brush. She said: ‘While I may not have attended every event in person, my heart has been with you all; and I remain committed to serving you to the best of my ability, supported by my family.’

The London Underground was badly affected when members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union went on strike for 24 hours; strikes on all railways were planned for 21, 23 and 25 June, coinciding with two by-elections and the Glastonbury festival. The government quietly dropped plans for a £3 billion rail link between HS2 and the West Coast Main Line. Thousands of travellers abroad were stranded when their return flights were cancelled by airlines unable to cope. A group of 79 migrants were brought ashore at Dover by Border Force, bringing the total to cross the Channel in small craft this year to more than 10,000. Numbers remaining in hospital with Covid fell from about 5,500 to less than 5,000. Wales beat Ukraine 1-0 to secure a place in the World Cup. After protests, Cineworld cancelled all screenings of a film about Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.


Russian attacks on Severodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk on the other side of the Siverskyi Donets river, in the Luhansk region, had left them both ‘dead cities’, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said. The bodies of 160 defenders of Mariupol arrived in Kyiv, exchanged for the same number of Russian dead. More than 1,000 Ukrainians taken prisoner there were sent to Russia. President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would expand its list of targets in Ukraine if western countries sent long-range weapons. As he spoke, Kyiv was hit by Russian strikes. America had announced it was sending mobile artillery rocket systems that can hit targets up to 45 miles away. Britain said it was to send similar rockets. The Russian parliament approved plans to leave the European Court of Human Rights.

A naval outpost for China is being built at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, the Washington Post reported. More than 40 people were killed in a fire that raged for three days at a container depot at Sitakunda, 25 miles from Chittagong in Bangladesh; some containers had been mislabelled and hydrogen peroxide stored in them exploded under firemen’s hoses. A shortage of lettuce in Australia made the KFC chain put cabbage in its wraps instead.

The EU proposed that new mobile phones should all have the same kind of charger connection by autumn 2024. Dozens were killed when armed men set off explosives at St Francis Catholic church in Owo, south-western Nigeria, on Pentecost day. The Pope announced a visit in August to l’Aquila, where Pope St Celestine V is buried, whose tomb Pope Benedict XVI visited before his abdication in 2013. CSH