Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: Brexit votes and Trump’s double negatives

21 July 2018

9:00 AM

21 July 2018

9:00 AM

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The administration of Theresa May, the Prime Minister, staggered on, as Conservative MPs exchanged angry words in the Commons, with supporters of Brexit and its enemies voting in turn against government bills. The government even failed to shorten the parliamentary session by five days to avoid trouble, instead provoking threats of defeat on the adjournment debate. An amendment to the Trade Bill seeking to impose a customs union on the government was defeated by 307 to 301, thanks to four Labour MPs who voted with the government. Guto Bebb resigned as minister for defence procurement to vote against the government on amendments that it accepted to the Customs Bill. John Woodcock MP left the Labour party, which he said had been ‘taken over by the hard left’ and ‘tolerated’ anti-Semitism. A glass ornament on a sunny windowsill destroyed a bungalow at Bognor Regis.

During his visit to Britain, President Donald Trump of the United States told the Sun that, on the Brexit negotiations: ‘I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.’ Mrs May later said that his advice had been to sue the EU. Mr Trump also said that if the provisions in the white paper were adopted ‘then their trade deal with the US will probably not be made’. Thousands of people protested against Mr Trump’s visit. As he inspected troops with the Queen at Windsor, Mr Trump lurched into her path. Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon for the fourth time and Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams to win the women’s championship.


The brother of Charlie Rowley, who is in hospital, poisoned by the Russian nerve agent Novichok, said that he had told him that he and Dawn Sturgess, who died, had found a perfume bottle and sprayed it on themselves. Gerry Adams, the former president of Sinn Féin, asked why explosive devices had been thrown at his house in west Belfast. The attack followed six nights of violence in Londonderry, during one of which 74 petrol bombs were thrown. Sir Cliff Richard won £210,000 damages in a privacy case against the BBC over its coverage of a police raid on his home. United Utilities, which loses about 25 per cent of the water it supplies through leakage, imposed a hosepipe ban in the rainy north-west from 5 August. The unemployment rate remained at its lowest since 1975 at 4.2 per cent and the rate of wage growth slipped from 2.8 to 2.7 per cent in the three months to May. Inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, stayed at 2.4 per cent.

Abroad

After meeting at Helsinki, President Donald Trump of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia told a joint press conference that they had not colluded in Russian meddling in the US elections of 2016. Asked about the meddling, Mr Trump said: ‘My people came to me… they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.’ The next day he said: ‘The sentence should have been: “I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t” or “why it wouldn’t be Russia”. Sort of a double negative.’ Twelve Russian military intelligence officers had been indicted in America the week before on charges of hacking into the Democratic election campaign. A Chinese fantasy epic, Asura, which cost £85 million to make, was withdrawn from cinemas after a weekend of thin audiences.

The European Union and Japan signed a trade deal embracing nearly a third of the world’s GDP. Before a dinner at the Nato summit, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, had to be helped down steps and supported by the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Portugal; a spokesman for the Commission said he had a ‘particularly painful attack of sciatica accompanied by cramps’. France won the World Cup, beating Croatia 4-2. In Paris, amid much jollity, dozens of people smashed windows in the Champs-Elysées.

Israel carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip in response to some of the most intensive bombardments from Gaza since 2014. Israel later suspended fuel deliveries to Gaza, and arson attacks continued from Gaza by kite and balloon, which had already burnt 7,000 acres of forest and farmland. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was said to have a fortune of $150 billion, making him the richest man in the world, well ahead of Bill Gates.             CSH

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