Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: ministerial musical chairs, women bishops, giant snails

19 July 2014

9:00 AM

19 July 2014

9:00 AM


In a ministerial reshuffle, William Hague, who promised to leave Parliament at the election, was made Leader of the House, being replaced as Foreign Secretary by Philip Hammond, who was replaced as Defence Secretary by Michael Fallon. Sir George Young Bt, aged 73, was sacked as Chief Whip. Michael Gove was demoted to Chief Whip. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said: ‘I wanted one of my big hitters, one of my real stars, one of my great brains, someone who has done extraordinary things for education in this country, to do that job.’ Mr Gove was replaced as Education Secretary by Nicky Morgan, who will keep her portfolio as minister for women. Disabled people got a minister all of their own, Mark Harper. Kenneth Clarke, aged 74, first appointed a whip in 1972, was sacked as minister without portfolio. Owen Paterson was sacked as Environment Secretary, to be replaced by Liz Truss, who had been an education minister. David Willetts, the universities minister, was sacked, and so were Alan Duncan, as international development minister, and Damian Green, as policing minister. Priti Patel, Anna Soubry, Claire Perry, Penny Mordaunt and Amber Rudd were promoted. Liam Fox declined the offer of minister in the Foreign Office.

The Church of England Synod voted for women bishops by 152 in favour, 45 against in the House of Laity; 37 to 2 in the House of Bishops; and 162 to 25 in the House of Clergy. The Archbishop of Canterbury responded by dancing thoughtfully. Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said he was all for killing people who were suffering. A jury at Canterbury Crown Court was told that a male nurse planned to eat a 14-year-old girl, having bought an axe in Broadstairs.

The rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Prices Index rose sharply to 1.9 per cent, from 1.5 in May; as measured by the Retail Prices Index it rose to 2.6 per cent, from 2.4. Unemployment fell 121,000 to 2.1 million. Lord Hill of Oareford was nominated as Britain’s next European Commissioner, to be replaced as leader of the House of Lords by Baroness Stowell of Beeston, a former head of corporate affairs for the BBC. Sir Bob Kerslake is resigning as head of the Civil Service and Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, is to swallow up his job. Newport Primary School in Leyton, east London, sent pupils fasting for Ramadan home at lunchtime for ‘health and safety’ reasons, but relented when parents said no one could collect them. Twin pandas were born at Drusillas Park zoo in Sussex, but since they were red pandas there was less fuss.


After eight days of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said that 192 people had been killed. More than 100 rockets a day were fired from Gaza into Israel. One Israeli was killed. When Israel halted its attacks in response to a ceasefire proposed by Egypt (which Hamas rejected as a ‘surrender’), the rocket attacks continued, and Israel resumed its air raids. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a jihadist group, killed eight Egyptians with a rocket at el-Arish on the coast of Sinai. Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist, died, aged 90.

A Ukrainian aeroplane fired rockets killing 11 at the town of Snizhne in the Donetsk region, where pro-Russian separatists were rallying. A Ukrainian transport plane was shot down near the Russian border. Trading in the shares of Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo was suspended. Industrial production fell in France by 1.7 per cent in a month and in Italy by 1.3 per cent. Germany expelled the head of US intelligence as Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, complained about ‘spying on allies’. A German sausage cartel was broken up. Germany won the World Cup, beating Argentina 1-0, and issued stamps declaring: Deutschland Fussball Weltmeister.

A rival militia failed to capture Tripoli airport from the Zintan militia, which has controlled it since the fall of Gaddafi, but at least eight people were killed, aeroplanes damaged and the airport put out of use. France ended its 18-month military deployment in Mali, but set up an anti-Islamist force in the Sahel with 3,000 of its own troops and others from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Chad. A suicide car-bomber killed at least 89 people at a market in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan. The UN said that 1,564 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan in the first half of the year. Customs officials at Los Angeles seized and incinerated 67 eight-inch giant African snails sent from Nigeria.         CSH

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