Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

5 September 2015

9:00 AM

5 September 2015

9:00 AM


The Government decided after all to retain the rules preventing ministers and their departments from publishing campaign material, ‘with some exceptions’, in the month before the referendum on membership of the European Union. The Electoral Commission said the planned wording for the referendum, ‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?’ could favour the status quo, and proposed adding the words ‘or leave the European Union?’ The government said it accepted the change, but Parliament must decide. Net migration to the UK had reached the unprecedented level of 330,000 in the year to March, according to the Office for National Statistics. Rebekah Brooks was to return as chief executive of News Corp’s British division, the Financial Times reported. Britain’s national sperm bank, in Birmingham, was found to have only nine donors.

George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, popped up to Faslane and announced an investment of £500 million in the base that serves Trident submarines, securing, he said, 6,700 jobs. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, said: ‘This is an arrogant decision by the Chancellor to try to pre-empt Parliament’s decision on the replacement of Trident.’ The Democratic Unionist party called for the Northern Ireland Assembly to be suspended after police said that the Provisional IRA still existed and some of its members were involved in the murder of the former IRA man Kevin McGuigan on 12 August. A mother and four children from Waltham Forest, London, believed to be travelling to Syria, were detained in Turkey.

Among 45 peers appointed in the Dissolution honours were William Hague, Andrew Lansley, Andrew Robathan, David Willetts and Sir George Young Bt among the 26 for the Tories; Sir Alan Beith, Sir Menzies Campbell and Don Foster among the 11 for the Liberal Democrats; David Blunkett, Alistair Darling, Peter Hain, Tessa Jowell and Dawn Primarolo among the eight for Labour. Some of the new peers were notably obscure. Danny Alexander and Vince Cable were knighted. Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, died in New York, aged 82. P.J. Kavanagh, the poet and Spectator columnist, died, aged 84.


Police barred entry to Keleti station in Budapest to hundreds of migrants with railway tickets to Germany. Hungary had attempted to apply the Dublin Convention, which requires asylum to be sought in the first country reached by refugees; Germany said it was suspending the rules for refugees from Syria. Austria arrested five men suspected of people-smuggling, in an operation following the discovery near the Hungarian border of 71 decomposing bodies in a van bought from a Slovak chicken company. A record number of 107,500 migrants had reached the borders of the European Union in July. Rescuers saved 198 people from two boats that sank off Libya carrying about 500 migrants. Migrants in Calais stopped Channel Tunnel train services for five hours. Unemployment in the eurozone fell to 10.9 per cent in July from 11.1 per cent in June.

In Syria, the Islamic State blew up the Temple of Bel in the ancient city of Palmyra. In Beirut a protest at the failure to collect rubbish developed into calls for the resignation of the environment minister and political reforms. Two French reporters, Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, engaged in writing a book about the king of Morocco, were arrested and accused of attempting to blackmail him. After a retrial, an Egypt court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste (who has left the country), to three years in jail after they were convicted of ‘spreading false news’.

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela closed the border with Colombia; 1,000 Colombians accused of smuggling were deported and many more fled. Brazilians called for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff amid a corruption scandal as the country slipped into recession. President Barack Obama, on a visit to Alaska, changed the name of Mount McKinley, at 20,237ft the tallest mountain in North America, to Denali, a native Alaskan word meaning Big One. China, which executes more criminals than the rest of the world put together, lifted the death penalty from nine crimes including obstructing police. The island of Dominica was ravaged by a tropical storm. Japan scrapped the logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after it was claimed to resemble one for a theatre in Belgium. CSH

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  • Sir Vince? It doesn’t work, somehow.

  • Gilbert White

    The dross and losers of the 20th Century get free benefits! Easier than robbing a bank?