Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: doctors on strike, President Obama’s Brexit threat

Plus: Hillsborough verdicts, deaths of Victoria Wood and Prince, BHS and Austin Reed go into administration

30 April 2016

9:00 AM

30 April 2016

9:00 AM


Junior doctors went on strike for two days, refusing to provide even emergency treatment. The 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989 were unlawfully killed, an inquest jury found. Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, contemplated British forces being sent to Libya, but said ‘if there were ever any question of a British combat role in any form — ground, sea or air — that would go to the House of Commons’. Big Ben is to be silenced for months while its clock and tower are restored.

‘The UK is going to be in the back of the queue’ to make a trade agreement with the United States if the British vote to leave the European Union, President Barack Obama of the United States said while standing next to David Cameron, the Prime Minister, at a press conference at the Foreign Office. Mr Obama had lunch with the Queen and watched Prince George of Cambridge ride a rocking horse in pyjamas and dressing-gown. Boris Johnson MP, the Mayor of London, said that Mr Obama’s removal of a bust of Churchill from show in the White House was ‘a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire’. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, called for Britain to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, but stay in the EU, even though she did not ‘believe those that say the sky will fall in if we vote to leave’. A weight limit of 23 stone was placed on customers for a new 250ft helter-skelter slide attached to the Orbit tower at the Olympic Park in London.

British Home Stores went into administration; the retail chain, sold for £1 last year by Sir Philip Green, has a pension scheme deficit of £571 million. Austin Reed, the outfitters, went into administration too. The British economy grew by 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of the year, compared with 0.6 per cent in the previous quarter. Ofgem fined Scottish Power £18 million for failures in its customer service. Victoria Wood the comedian died, aged 62. A purple-coloured self-portrait of J.M.W. Turner is to figure on the £20 note from 2020, together with a detail from his painting ‘The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838’.


Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany visited a migrant camp on the Turkish-Syrian border in the company of Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, to give impetus to the deal between the EU and Turkey to take back migrants caught entering Europe. Mr Davutoglu insisted that, in return, Turks should be able to visit Schengen area countries without visas: ‘If it doesn’t happen, then the readmission agreement will not come into play,’ he said. Mr Obama flew to Hanover for talks on patrolling the waters of Libya too, to turn back migrants; he was joined by Mrs Merkel, President François Hollande of France, Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minster, and Mr Cameron. The supreme court of Papua New Guinea ruled unconstitutional the detention of migrants by Australia on the Papuan territory of Manus Island. Norway offered a bonus of £1,000 each to the first 500 asylum-seekers to apply to leave the country.

In Libya, forces of the Islamic State were pushed out of the city of Derna, according to its rivals, the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda. Sapo, the Swedish intelligence service, investigated claims by Iraqi authorities that a handful of Islamic State terrorists had entered the country intent on an outrage in Stockholm. Uganda announced it would build a pipeline to export its oil through Tanzania, not through Kenya, for fear of terrorist attacks by Islamists from Somalia. To save energy, Venezuela imposed a two-day week for public-sector workers. The singer Prince died, aged 57.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr marched in Baghdad in protest at the continuing paralysis of the Iraqi parliament. Saudi-backed forces retook the Yemeni port of Mukalla from al-Qaeda. Norbert Hofer of the right-wing Freedom Party won the largest share of the vote in Austrian presidential elections, which now go forward to a second round in May. Spain, unable to from a government, faced fresh elections in June. An American security expert found that the names, addresses, dates of birth and voter identity numbers of 87 million Mexicans had been left open to view on the internet on a server hosted by Amazon. In Delhi, the National Museum of Natural History burnt down, with the loss of thousands of specimens. CSH

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