The Spectator

Portrait of the week: A&E crisis, Alps snow shortage and walrus cancels fireworks


The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said some A&E departments were in a ‘complete state of crisis’. Railway workers belonging to the RMT union and Aslef began five days of strikes. Rail fares will rise by 5.9 per cent from March after the government decided to cap them; usually they go up a percentage point more than the July inflation figure, which in 2022 was 12.3 per cent. More than a million households with prepayment meters did not redeem their monthly energy support vouchers during the cold spell in December; postal strikes and difficulty of contacting suppliers were blamed. In December, the Bank of England had raised UK interest rates to their highest level for 14 years, to 3.5 per cent from 3 per cent. The next Budget is to be held on 15 March, the Treasury announced. In 2022, 45,756 migrants crossed the Channel by small boat, compared with 28,526 in 2021, the Home Office said.

Virginia Crosbie, the Conservative MP for Ynys Mon, said she had taken to wearing a stab-proof jacket when meeting constituents. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, appointed Sir Laurie Magnus, the chairman of Historic England, as his ethics adviser. Andrew Tate, aged 36, a British-American online ‘influencer’, was detained in Romania as part of an investigation into human trafficking and rape. Dame Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer, died, aged 81. Scarborough cancelled its new year fireworks to avoid disturbing a walrus that spent a couple of days ashore in the harbour.

Of the 1,107 recipients of New Year honours, 50 per cent were women. Dame Mary Quant was appointed a Companion of Honour. Among those knighted were Brian May, the guitarist of Queen, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, the constitutionalist, Grayson Perry, the ceramicist, and Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi.

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