Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Ireland votes to legalise abortion; Pret A Manger sold; Italy plunged into crisis

2 June 2018

9:00 AM

2 June 2018

9:00 AM


Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, said that the referendum in Ireland on abortion had no impact on the law in the province, where it is a devolved matter. But the Northern Ireland Assembly has not sat since January 2017, when power-sharing arrangements broke down. The DUP currently provides the British government with a parliamentary majority. Ireland had voted by 66.4 to 33.6 per cent (with a turnout of 64.1 per cent) to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution, which gives equal rights to women and the unborn. The only constituency to vote against the repeal was Donegal, a county of Ulster not belonging to Northern Ireland. Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, said that a law would be in place by the end of the year to allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to the 24th week in some circumstances. The Oliver Cromwell, a paddle-steamer being towed to Northern Ireland, sank off Anglesey.

Pret A Manger is to be sold to the Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings. The Electoral Commission said it had set aside £829,000 as a ‘precautionary measure, so that we have the necessary funds to deliver our functions at a European Parliamentary election, in the unlikely event that they do go ahead’ in 2019. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, visited Brussels and explained Brexit to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, returned from a tour of Peru, Chile and Argentina quoting Keats on ‘realms of gold’ for British trade if it left the EU customs union. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, announced a scheme by which buskers would be able to use contactless payment.

A man in his eighties died after his car was submerged in flood water at Walsall, when rain deluged the West Midlands, with 2.28 inches falling in an hour at Edgbaston. Passengers at Stansted airport were delayed after lightning struck aircraft fuelling systems. London saw flooding in a later thunderstorm. Tommy Robinson, who used to lead the English Defence League, was jailed under the name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon for 13 months for contempt of court after broadcasting on social media from outside a court in Leeds where a case was still going on. Chris Anderson, aged 30, took the record for the most cheeses won (22 in 14 years) in the Cooper’s Hill cheese-rolling championships in Gloucestershire.


Italy was in political crisis after President Sergio Mattarella of Italy invited Carlo Cottarelli, an International Monetary Fund veteran close to Brussels technocrats, to be the interim prime minister until a new election could be held. This followed the collapse of a coalition between Five Star and the League when the President rejected the nomination of Paolo Savona, who opposes the euro system, to be finance minister under their candidate as prime minister, Giuseppe Conte. Mamoudou Gassama, a Malian migrant, was promised French citizenship by President Emmanuel Macron after climbing up to a fourth-floor balcony in Paris to rescue a four-year-old boy hanging by his fingertips.

President Donald Trump of the United States called off a meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, citing its ‘hostility’. Two days later he said it could all be on again. Mr Kim and Moon Jae-in, the elected President of South Korea, then held an unannounced meeting. Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist who had fled to Ukraine in fear of his life, was shot dead outside his flat in Kiev. Dutch-led international investigators found that the missile that brought down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in 2014, killing all 298 people on board, was a Russian-made Buk, supplied by the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk. Burundi described the donation by the French embassy of ten donkeys to villagers in Gitega province as an ‘insult to the nation’.

Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, who has faced delays in renewing his UK visa, flew to Tel Aviv after being granted Israeli citizenship, for which he qualified as a Jew. Palestinians in Gaza fired dozens of mortars at Israel, which responded with air strikes on 35 targets. In Liège, Belgium, a man was heard to cry ‘Allahu Akbar’ before shooting dead two policewomen and a civilian in an attack regarded as terrorism, before being shot dead himself. Bears raided dozens of beehives in Finland and Estonia.   CSH

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments