Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: 23 countries back Britain by expelling Russian diplomats

31 March 2018

9:00 AM

31 March 2018

9:00 AM

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‘We recognise that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party,’ Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said. ‘I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.’ His remarks were released before the publication of an open letter to Labour MPs from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council which said Mr Corbyn was incapable of contemplating anti-Semitism seriously ‘because he is so ideologically fixed within a far-left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities’. Earlier, Mr Corbyn had said: ‘I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely’ at a mural satirising Jewish financiers when he posted remarks on Facebook in 2012 opposing its removal by Tower Hamlets council, although he now realised it was ‘deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic’. Mr Corbyn sacked Owen Smith as the shadow Northern Ireland secretary for calling for a second referendum on the EU. Cambridge beat Oxford by three lengths in the 164th Boat Race.

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, took out advertisements in British and American newspapers saying that ‘a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014’ was ‘a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time’. After five days, the Information Commissioner obtained a warrant to search the computers at Cambridge Analytica, the company that dealt with the data. The restaurant group Prezzo is closing 94 outlets, a third of the chain, under a company voluntary arrangement.


David Davis, the Brexit secretary, said that a final agreement with the EU was ‘incredibly probable, very, very highly probable’. A great deal of outrage met the news that, under EU competition rules, the new blue British passports would be made by Gemalto, a Franco-Dutch company, not by the current suppliers, De La Rue, at Gateshead. The Home Office said that the choice could save £120 million over the life of the 11-year contract.

Abroad

The United States told 60 Russian diplomats to leave and 22 other countries, 16 in the EU, expelled 56 more, in support of Britain’s response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. US President Donald Trump chose John Bolton as his new National Security Adviser to replace General H.R. McMaster. Mr Trump announced tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports. Hundreds of people were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta near Damascus under an agreement between the Syrian government and the rebel group Faylaq al-Rahman to take fighters and their families to rebel territory in Idlib province. A car bomb killed 31 people at Nowruz spring festival celebrations in Kabul and another killed at least 13 at a wrestling match at Lashkar Gah.

Carles Puigdemont, the former leader of Catalonia, was arrested in Schleswig-Holstein by German police using a European arrest warrant and imprisoned as he attempted to travel from Finland to Belgium, where he had taken refuge after Catalonia declared independence in October. His successor as president of the autonomous assembly, Jordi Turull, was arrested with 13 other Catalan politicians. The Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s police force, arrested 89 people associated with a Nigerian gang called the Supreme Eiye Confraternity on suspicion of trafficking women for prostitution. Steve Smith, the Australia cricket captain, was banned from playing in the fourth Test against South Africa after admitting a plot to tamper with the ball in the third Test; Cameron Bancroft was caught by cameras fiddling with a bit of sticky tape which he then tried to hide down his underpants. The first scheduled non-stop flight between Australia and Britain landed at Heathrow 17 hours after beginning its 9,000-mile journey from Perth.

The French praised Arnaud Beltrame, a policeman shot dead after taking the place of a hostage held by Redouane Lakdim at a supermarket in Trèbes, near Carcassonne. The gunman declared he was acting for Isis and demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the sole surviving suspect of the attacks in Paris in 2015 that killed 130. Lakdim had shot dead the passenger in a car he hijacked before shooting dead a butcher and a customer at the Super U supermarket, and being shot dead by police. At least 64 people died in a fire at a shopping centre at Kemerovo in Siberia. Orange snow fell on Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Moldova.                                                                           CSH

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