David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said he wanted to ‘negotiate a new settlement with our European partners’, and that before the end of 2017 would ‘give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice’. Gérard Depardieu hugged President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi as he received a Russian passport. French troops were welcomed in the streets of Timbuktu as they drove back Islamist forces in Mali. HMV, the record shop, and Blockbuster, the DVD rental firm, went into administration. There were riots in Belfast. A helicopter crashed into a tower block at Vauxhall in London. The City of London approved a 620ft tower nicknamed the Scalpel.
Moody’s reduced Britain’s credit rating from AAA to AA1. The Commons voted for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, with 127 Conservative MPs voting in favour, and 136 against. Horse meat was found in prepared meals sold by several companies. The Spanish parliament voted for bullfighting to be declared a protected national cultural pastime. North Korea exploded a nuclear device underground. The number of Syrian refugees abroad rose above a million. Pope Benedict XVI, aged 85, abdicated. Patricia Hughes, the former Radio 3 announcer, died, aged 90. Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee who runs on blades, was charged with murder.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby was enthronised as Archbishop of Canterbury. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope, taking the name Francis. The people of the Falkland Islands voted by 1,513 to three to remain a British overseas territory. Banks in Cyprus closed their doors when the government announced a levy on accounts, to meet EU bailout terms. President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died, aged 58. Kenny Ball, remembered for ‘Midnight in Moscow’ (1962), died, aged 82. Chris Huhne, the former energy secretary, and his former wife, Vicky Pryce, were jailed for perverting the course of justice. In Shanghai, 16,000 dead pigs were found in the river Huangpu.
Margaret Thatcher, prime minister from 1979 to 1990, died, aged 87. North Korea warned foreigners in South Korea to put in place measures for evacuation in case of war. Two bombs at the Boston marathon killed three and wounded more than 170; Tamerlan Tsarnaev was later shot dead and his brother Dzhokhar charged. An eight-storey clothing workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed, killing 1,129. The French parliament legalised same-sex marriage. Measles broke out in Swansea. Wildfires broke out on Dartmoor. In 4,144 EU tests on beef products, 193 were found to contain horse. Eleven horses from the Maktoum family’s Godolphin stable tested positive for anabolic steroids. The Football Association banned Luis Suarez, the Liverpool striker, for ten games after he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on the arm.
In English council elections, the UK Independence party increased its councillors from eight to 147. Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in broad daylight near his barracks in Woolwich; police shot and wounded Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, who were charged with murder. In Iraq, 1,045 were killed during the month, the worst total since June 2008. Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce were both released after serving 62 days of an eight-month sentence. The FTSE 100 index reached 6,803.87, its highest finish since late 1999. The UN urged people to eat more insects.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees appealed for help for 1.5 million refugees from Syria. Hassan Rouhani, aged 64, was elected President of Iran. Edward Snowden, who had been working for the US National Security Agency, leaked thousands of documents, and found his way to Moscow. Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin announced on state television that they were to divorce. Rupert Murdoch, 82, filed for divorce from Wendi Deng, 44. Turkish riot police repeatedly clashed with demonstrators in Taksim Square in Istanbul. Oliver Bernard, the poet, died, aged 87.
The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a boy, George, weighing 8lb 6oz. President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt was deposed and the army shot dead at least 51 protesters. Abu Qatada, having resisted deportation from Britain since 2005, agreed to leave and was flown to Jordan. The BBC was criticised by the National Audit Office for paying £25 million in severance to 150 senior managers. Yahoo decided to close down the Altavista internet search-engine started in 1995. Alan Whicker, the television journalist, died, aged 87 by his own account. Andy Murray won the men’s title at Wimbledon, the first Briton to do so since Fred Perry in 1936.
The government was defeated after Parliament was recalled to debate military action against Syria, in response to the killing with chemical weapons of hundreds on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August. In Cairo hundreds died when protesters supporting the deposed President Morsi were evicted from two sit-ins. The number killed in Iraq in 2013 rose above 4,000. Bradley Manning, an American soldier sentenced to 35 years for publishing secrets, announced that he was now a woman called Chelsea. Robert Mugabe, aged 89, won a seventh term as President of Zimbabwe. Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, was convicted of tax fraud. Seamus Heaney, the poet, died, aged 74. There were riots in Belfast. A fatberg the size of a bus was found in a sewer at Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.
Just as the world expected America to attack Syria, President Barack Obama announced he would consult Congress first. But the vote was called off after Russia and America pressed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to disable his chemical weapons. The number of people who had fled Syria rose above two million. The number killed in Iraq in 2013 rose above 5,000. Islamist terrorists from al-Shabab killed at least 67 people in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. A Chinese court sentenced the disgraced politician Bo Xilai to life imprisonment for corruption. Godfrey Bloom, an MEP, resigned from Ukip after joking that women who didn’t clean behind the fridge were sluts. Britain was to adopt plastic banknotes in 2016.
The Royal Mail stock market launch was oversubscribed. The government asked the French-owned EDF Energy and Chinese investors to build a nuclear power station in Somerset. Energy suppliers put up their prices. The American government shut itself down for a fortnight after Congress failed to agree a budget. At least 274 migrants died after their boat caught fire and sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Greek police seized a little girl with blonde hair from a Roma settlement. Peter Higgs, from Britain, and François Englert, from Belgium, shared the Nobel prize for physics, for their work on the Higgs boson. Southern England was battered by a storm.
Scotland’s devolved government published a 670-page White Paper on independence. A helicopter crashed through the roof of a pub in Glasgow. A Royal Marine was convicted of the murder of a wounded Afghan prisoner of war. Iran agreed to reduce its nuclear activities. Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taleban in Pakistan, was killed by an American drone. A typhoon killed thousands in the Philippines. Lou Reed, the singer and songwriter, died, aged 71. Police investigated accusations of football match fixing in Britain by international betting syndicates. Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian cricketer who is the only batsman to score 100 international centuries, retired after his 200th Test match.
Nelson Mandela died, aged 95. A French force of 1,600 intervened in the Central African Republic, which had fallen into the hands of armed gangs. Thousands of protesters in Ukraine opposed government alignment with Russia. A tidal surge drove hundreds from their houses and flooded St Botolph’s church, Boston, Lincolnshire. Pensionable age would rise to 68 in the 2030s, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced. The forecast for British economic growth in 2014 was revised from 1.8 to 2.4 per cent. Flights to and from Britain were disrupted by an air-traffic control system getting stuck on its nocturnal setting. Northumberland National Park was renamed Northumberland Dark Sky Park. –CSH
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