The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Boris’s shambolic CBI speech, more Covid protests and Kyle Rittenhouse is cleared

Portrait of the week: Boris’s shambolic CBI speech, more Covid protests and Kyle Rittenhouse is cleared
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Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, praised Peppa Pig in a speech to the Confederation of British Industry: ‘Who would’ve believed that a pig that looks like a hairdryer... has now been exported to 180 countries?’ Then he lost his place and said: ‘Forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me.’ Nineteen Conservative MPs voted against the government on a clause excluding means-tested council support payments from a new £86,000 lifetime limit on social care costs; it would mean a lost inheritance for heirs of people with assets worth no more than the limit. The writer J.K. Rowling was hounded by militant trans campaigners. ‘I’ve now received so many death threats I could paper the house with them,’ she said.

Covid antibodies were present in 95.8 per cent of people over 80 in England, according to the Office for National Statistics; among 16- to 24-year-olds the percentage was 96.1. Scotland renewed a requirement to wear face masks and use vaccine passports to get into some venues. People in Northern Ireland were urged to work from home. In the seven days up to the beginning of this week, 1,031 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 143,866. (In the previous week, deaths had been 1,092.) Numbers remaining in hospital fell from about 8,600 to about 8,000. A woman who telephoned a GP surgery in Belfast 286 times before her call was answered was then told to ring back the next day.

The government made the best it could of cancelling the HS2 rail eastern leg from the Midlands to Leeds, emphasising improvements to local routes. New homes, supermarkets and workplaces in England will be required by law to install electric vehicle charging points from next year. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced that she was seeking to declare the whole Palestinian group Hamas an illegal organisation. The Home Office is to require the 217 local authorities in the UK with social services departments to take unaccompanied asylum-seeker children who arrive in small boats across the Channel. Of more than 25,000 people who crossed the Channel to Britain this year, five had been returned to France, Tom Pursglove, the immigration minister, told the Commons.

Abroad

Police used tear gas and water cannons as tens of thousands of people protested in Brussels against Covid passports to enter bars. In Holland bicycles were set on fire. Thousands marched in the Croatian capital Zagreb against mandatory vaccinations for public-sector workers. France sent police to the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after a week of violent protests against compulsory vaccinations for health workers. The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 5,163,528 by the beginning of the week. The Israeli defence establishment estimated that Iran could accumulate enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon within a month and prepared itself to strike Iranian nuclear sites. Sixty-one candidates applied to stand for election as president of Libya.

A jury cleared Kyle Rittenhouse (on grounds of self defence) of homicide, after he killed two men and seriously wounded a third during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020, when he was 17. Darrell Edward Brooks Jr, 39, killed six people and injured 47 others in Waukesha, Wisconsin, when his sport utility vehicle mowed into a Christmas parade. At least 46 people, including 12 children, died when a tourist coach from North Macedonia returning from Istanbul crashed and caught fire in western Bulgaria.

The United States, in coordination with China, India, Japan, South Korea and Britain, said it was releasing 50 million barrels of oil from its reserves in an attempt to bring down soaring energy prices. President Joe Biden of the United States nominated Jay Powell for a second term as chair of the Federal Reserve.

China downgraded its diplomatic representation in Lithuania to the level of chargé d’affaires after Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a diplomatic office. The Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, not seen in public for almost three weeks after making sexual assault allegations against a former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, was shown off by state media. Russia’s boxing federation is to bring back bare-knuckle boxing. President Iván Duque of Colombia criticised cadets at the Simón Bolívar police school who dressed in SS uniforms at a German cultural exchange event. CSH