The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Prorogation fury, cricketing glory and the PM’s pork pie

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The government sought to prorogue parliament on 10 September and have the Queen’s Speech opening the new session of parliament on 14 October. The Budget would be brought forward to 4 September. The prorogation caused much fury among Remainers. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had met other opposition party leaders to hatch a plan to pass legislation to stop Britain leaving the European Union on 31 October without a withdrawal agreement. Mr Corbyn had proposed becoming prime minister for a bit, but few fancied that prospect.

Bury was expelled from the English Football League after the company trying to buy the club pulled out. England won the third Ashes Test at Headingley despite being bowled out for 67 in their first innings and being left with 359 to make in their second to beat Australia; Leach was the last man in, with 73 to make, and a dogged Stokes, scoring a total of 135, took the partnership to victory. It was hot and sunny for the late August bank holiday (not observed in Scotland). Cuadrilla suspended fracking operations near Blackpool after tremors were detected; two days later a tremor of magnitude 2.9 occurred, and a picture was reported to have fallen off a shelf at Lytham St Annes. Lord Bell, Tim Bell, whose advertising campaigns helped Margaret Thatcher win elections, died aged 77. British Airways told thousands of travellers that their flights had been cancelled during strikes to be held by pilots in September, then told them they hadn’t. RBS and NatWest websites were out of order for several hours. The Bank of England said 118 million paper £5 notes, withdrawn from circulation in May 2017, and 94 million £10 paper notes, withdrawn in March 2018, have not been returned.

Two small boats carrying 28 people who said they were from Iraq and Iran were found in the Channel. An Iraqi who tried to swim from France to England was found dead off Zeebrugge with plastic water bottles for buoyancy and wearing one flipper. About 970 people, at least 80 of them children, have been found in the Channel in small boats this year. On his way to the G7 summit, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said: ‘Melton Mowbray pork pies, which are sold in Thailand and in Iceland, are currently unable to enter the US market.’ Pork pie manufacturers denied that they exported to Thailand or Iceland, though some pies had been sent to both countries in 2015. Opponents of the Prime Minister played upon the rhyming slang meaning of pork pie.

Abroad

The G7 summit at Biarritz was unable to produce a communiqué. There was much blame directed towards President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil for letting fires rage in the Amazon. Brazil rejected a G7 offer of $22 million to help fight the fires. President Emmanuel Macron of France complained that President Bolsonaro had ‘made some extraordinarily rude comments’ on Facebook pictures comparing him and his wife, 25 years his senior, with Mr Bolsonaro and his wife, who is 27 years his junior. Mr Bolsonaro had posted a comment translated as: ‘Don’t humiliate the guy, ha ha.’ At the summit, President Donald Trump of the United States said he wouldn’t mind meeting President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, but his immediate response was that there was no point if it was to be a mere photo opportunity. Mr Trump looked forward to trade talks with China, three days after stock markets wobbled in response to an announcement by America that it would raise tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from 25 per cent to 30 per cent from 1 October.

Israel said that it had struck several sites in Syria from the air and, ‘using killer drones’, had thwarted an Iranian attack on Israel. Civilians tried to flee continuing fighting in the province of Idlib in Syria. Italy’s party political crisis continued. Police in Hong Kong used water-cannon against protestors in their 12th week of demonstrations calling for democracy. President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe said his country wanted to trade in a stockpile of ivory worth $600 million.

A US federal judge temporarily blocked a new law banning nearly all abortions in the state of Missouri. A judge in Oklahoma ordered the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million for the care of opioid addicts because its promotion of addictive prescription painkillers had ‘compromised the health and safety of thousands’; the company was to appeal. Mattel put on sale a Barbie doll intended to resemble Rosa Parks.                           CSH