Floods covered 28,000 acres of the Somerset Levels. Ukip suspended an Oxfordshire councillor for saying floods were God’s punishment for legalising same-sex marriage. An Afghan was granted asylum because he had become an atheist. Fallujah fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis). Half a million fled fighting in South Sudan. Cannabis went on sale in Colorado. In Amsterdam, alcoholics were paid in beer to clear up litter. Jeremy Paxman shaved off his beard.
Floods grew worse in the West Country. The railway at Dawlish, Devon, was swept away. The Thames then flooded. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, visited London to have tea with the Queen and urge Britain to stay in the EU. Copeland, Cumberland was found to have the greatest proportion of fat people in England. Kevin Pietersen was finally dropped by England. In Ukraine 77 people were killed during protests in Kiev and President Viktor Yanukovych disappeared. More than 1,100 Syrians escaped from Homs after a truce. MtGox, an exchange for the virtual BitCoin, disappeared offline, owing customers hundreds of millions of pounds. Shirley Temple, the child film star, died, aged 85.
The Prison Service was found to be prohibiting books from being sent to prisoners. Thousands of huge rats were reported to be roaming Birmingham. Thousands of Russian troops took control of the Crimean peninsula. A Malaysia Airlines aeroplane went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 on board. After a tense count, Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, was elected to parliament with 100 per cent of the votes in his constituency. Guinea, in an attempt to halt the spread of Ebola, banned the eating of bats. Canada offered tax incentives to people who encouraged sexual intercourse between moose in Nova Scotia.
Maria Miller resigned as Culture Secretary after delivering an apology in the Commons lasting 32 seconds. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said in the Church Times that Britain is a Christian country, so 55 celebrity atheists wrote to the Daily Telegraph to deny it. President Michael D. Higgins became the first Irish head of state to make a state visit to Britain. Mickey Rooney died, aged 93. In Nigeria, Boko Haram said it would sell 230 girls, aged 16 to 19, that it had kidnapped from their school. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said his government had the upper hand in the civil war.
Ukip triumphed in the European elections, leaving the Conservatives in third place for the first time in a national poll. David Cameron said there would be a referendum on membership of the EU by the end of 2017. Abu Hamza was convicted in New York of terrorism. In a mine disaster at Soma in Turkey 301 were killed. In France, the Front National gained 25 per cent of votes in the European elections, pushing the ruling Socialists into third place. The Eurovision Song Contest was won for Austria by a man dressed as a bearded lady. China banned the import of British cheese.
Ofsted found ‘a culture of fear and intimidation’ in 21 Birmingham schools, after allegations of an attempted Muslim takeover in ‘Operation Trojan Horse’. Qat was made an illegal class C drug. In Iraq, Isis took over Mosul and stole $425 million from the Bank of Iraq; videos showed hundreds of prisoners being shot in cold blood. King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated in favour of his heir Felipe. The Italian navy picked up 3,600 migrants in 24 hours trying to cross from north Africa. South African police arrested a man found eating the heart of his ex-girlfriend’s new lover with a knife and fork.
William Hague promised not to stand at the next election and was made Leader of the House, being replaced as Foreign Secretary by Philip Hammond, who was replaced as Defence Secretary by Michael Fallon. Michael Gove was demoted to Chief Whip. The Church of England voted for women bishops, and the Archbishop of Canterbury danced thoughtfully. A jury in Canterbury heard that a male nurse planned to eat a 14-year-old girl, having bought an axe at Broadstairs. A Malaysia Airlines flight from Amsterdam was brought down over rebel-occupied Ukraine with the loss of 298. In response to rockets fired from Gaza, Israel launched airstrikes. Isis destroyed the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Rival militias fought for Tripoli airport. After beating Brazil 7-1, Germany won the World Cup final against Argentina 1-0, issuing stamps printed: Deutschland Fussball Weltmeister.
In the grassy moat of the Tower of London, an installation of ceramic poppies, which would grow to 888,246, was unveiled. Kate Bush performed in Hammersmith after a break of 35 years. In six weeks of conflict 2,016 Palestinians (541 said to be children) and 66 Israelis died. More than 2,000 people had been killed in Ukraine since mid-April. In Iraq 25,000 Yazidis fled into the mountains to escape Isis. A man with a British accent was shown beheading an American journalist in a video posted on the internet by the Islamic State.
A referendum in Scotland rejected independence by 2,001,926 votes to 1,617,989. The Commons, specially recalled, voted for air strikes in Iraq against Isis, which continued to post videos of western captives being beheaded. Shaun Wright resigned as Police and Crime Commissioner of South Yorkshire after a report found 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. Tesco said it had overstated by £250 million its half-year profits forecast. The parents of Ashya King, a boy aged five with brain cancer, were held in jail for two nights in Madrid after taking him from hospital in Southampton, but were then allowed to take him for treatment in Prague. Five geckos sent into space on a Russian satellite, for their sex lives to be studied, froze solid when the heating failed.
Nick Clegg put mental health at the centre of the Liberal Democrat election campaign. A poll found that 6 per cent of voters supported the Lib Dems. Ukip gained its first elected MP when Douglas Carswell overturned a 12,068 Conservative majority at Clacton. The National Trust for Scotland complained at the volume of human excrement on top of Ben Macdui, Britain’s second highest mountain. Isis moved in on the Kurdish town of Kobane on the Turkish border with Syria. British combat troops left Helmand province in Afghanistan after 13 years and 453 deaths. Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete, was jailed for five years for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. An Italian operation that saved 150,000 migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean (where at least 2,500 did drown) was nominally handed over to the EU. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo broke up in mid-air, one of two crew onboard survived.
George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, claimed that Britain would only have to pay half of a £1.7 billion bill from EU. Ed Miliband spent a week having his leadership of the Labour party questioned. Nicola Sturgeon replaced Alex Salmond as leader of the SNP. A report into alleged fraud at Tower Hamlets Council revealed a ‘culture of cronyism’. The Republicans took control of the US Senate as well as the House of Representatives. Ukip won the Rochester by-election and Emily Thornberry MP left the shadow cabinet for tweeting a picture of a house draped with flags of St George.
Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, promised not to stand for Parliament in 2015. Alex Salmond promised to stand for the Westminster constituency of Gordon in 2015. Jeremy Thorpe, the former Liberal leader found not guilty in 1979 of conspiracy to murder Norman Scott, died, aged 85. In Cape Town, Shrien Dewani, a British businessman, was found not guilty of having his wife murdered on their honeymoon. In Yemen, two hostages were murdered by al-Qa’eda during an American attempt to free them. Britain announced it would establish a military base in Bahrain. The Queen made a film about her vegetable garden, sprayed with garlic against aphids, for Christmas Day television. CSH
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