Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

14 September 2013

9:00 AM

14 September 2013

9:00 AM

Home

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the British economy was ‘turning a corner’, with ‘tentative signs of a balanced, broad based and sustainable recovery’. Unemployment fell to 7.7 per cent for the quarter May to July from 7.8 in the previous quarter. Jaguar Land Rover is to create 1,700 jobs at Solihull, where it is planning production of aluminium chassis. The Highways Agency published details of a new 25-mile stretch of toll-road on the A14 bypassing Huntingdon. Churches on the Isle of Sheppey held prayers of thanksgiving that no one was killed in a crash in the fog involving 130 cars on the bridge to the island. The HS2 rail link could benefit the economy by £15 billion a year by 2037, according to a report by KPMG the accountants. Shop vacancies in the top 650 high streets remained at just over 14 per cent, with Blackburn recording the highest rate at 26.9 per cent. Britain is to adopt plastic banknotes in 2016.

The Commons public accounts committee, looking into payments of millions of pounds to departing executives of the BBC beyond their contractual entitlements, heard evidence from Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, Mark Thompson, a former director-general of the BBC, and others. Mr Thompson helpfully supplied a 12,000-word memo. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party, told the Trades Union Congress why the end of automatic affiliation of union members to the party was a good thing. A secret Labour party report had found that no rules were broken over the selection for the Falkirk constituency of a candidate favoured by the union Unite. The GMB union said it was cutting affiliation funds to the party from £1.2 million to £150,000. Athena Martin, aged 17, found that some butterflies in store at Oxford University Museum were specimens collected by Alfred Russel Wallace thought lost when his ship caught fire in 1852.


Chris Huhne, the disgraced Lib Dem former minister, wrote in the Guardian blaming Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers for his imprisonment. Sarah Teather decided not to stand again as a Lib Dem MP because she no longer felt ‘that Nick Clegg’s party fights sufficiently for social justice’. Nigel Evans resigned as a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons upon being charged with a rape and seven lesser offences of sexual assault against men, all of which he denies. An intruder climbed a fence and was arrested in Buckingham Palace. Two days later the Duke of York was challenged in the gardens of the Palace by armed policemen, who then apologised.

Abroad

A vote by the US Congress on attacking Syria was called off after a diplomatic initiative that followed a remark by John Kerry, the Secretary of State, speculating that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria could stop the attack if he turned over ‘every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week’. The idea was immediately taken up by Russia. America said that Russia’s plan must be ‘swift and verifiable’. France, backed by America and Britain, put a resolution to the UN Security Council to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. Jabhat al-Nusra rebels, aligned with al-Qa’eda, took the town of Maaloula, which Christians fled as their churches were desecrated.

The 2020 Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo (which beat Istanbul and Madrid), and wrestling is to be reintroduced, to the disappointment of squash players. Jacques Rogge, aged 71, stood down as president of the International Olympic Committee, being replaced by Thomas Bach, aged 59, a German. Four men were found guilty of the fatal gang rape of a student on a bus in Delhi last December. Demonstrators outside court chanted: ‘Hang them!’ Bob Geldof planned to be the first Irishman in space on a commercial flight next year.

The European Union’s lawyers said that a financial transaction tax (known as the Tobin tax) would be illegal. In the Norwegian elections, Labour was beaten by the Conservatives, who planned to govern in a coalition with the anti-immigration Progress Party. In the Australian elections, the Liberal-National coalition won, and Tony Abbott replaced Labor’s Kevin Rudd as prime minister. Bush fires burned with unusual ferocity in New South Wales. The Romanian parliament refused to pass a law enabling a Canadian mining company to dig for gold in Transylvania. In Churchill, Manitoba, a polar bear was arrested and held after attacking a man before being frightened off by his mobile phone.                   CSH

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