Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Theresa May’s fury at the EU and Labour’s Brexit chaos

29 September 2018

9:00 AM

29 September 2018

9:00 AM


Theresa May, the Prime Minister, held a special cabinet to retrieve something from the wreckage of the Brexit policy she had imposed at Chequers this summer. Mrs May had shown surprise at a summit in Salzburg four days earlier when the EU rejected her proposals. ‘The suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work,’ said Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. He then posted a picture on Instagram of himself and Mrs May with a cakestand and the caption: ‘A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries.’ Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said that this was ‘insulting the British people’. The next day, Mrs May had made a special broadcast from Downing Street to say: ‘Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect. The UK expects the same.’ The cabinet agreed that people from the EU should face the same immigration rules as those from elsewhere. Mrs May, on her way to a UN meeting in America, said that a Canada-style deal with the EU would be no good if it broke up the United Kingdom. The Institute of Economic Affairs published its own plan, supported by such keen Brexiteers as Jacob Rees-Mogg. A Beluga whale was spotted in the Thames at East Tilbury.

At the Labour conference in Liverpool, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, promised Labour would, over a decade, take 10 per cent of shares from companies employing more than 250 people and put them in a workers’ fund. He said the water industry in England would be renationalised, which would see salaries capped for executives and control handed to workers, local councils and customers. Labour would consider another referendum on Brexit, but it would not include the option of staying in the EU; Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary said that it might. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, refused to say how he would vote in a second referendum. WeightWatchers changed its name to WW.

Comcast beat 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over Sky, with an offer worth nearly £30 billion. Ryanair cancelled 190 flights on a day of strikes in Europe. A public inquiry began into the giving of infected blood to thousands of people by the NHS in the 1970s and 1980s. Life expectancy at birth in the United Kingdom stopped improving for the first time since 1982, with women’s life expectancy remaining at 82.9 years. Conwy council reduced collection of domestic rubbish bound for landfill to once-monthly. Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC died aged 92. Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave died aged 74.


President Donald Trump of the United States attacked Iran at the UN General Assembly, accusing it of sowing ‘chaos, death and destruction’; his claim that his administration had accomplished ‘more than almost any’ other in US history was greeted with laughter. A gun attack on a military parade in city of Ahvaz in south-western Iran killed 25 people, including 12 soldiers; both an ethnic Arab group and the Islamic State said it had committed the act. The US fashion company Michael Kors confirmed a $2.1 billion takeover of Versace. The comedian Bill Cosby, aged 81, was sentenced to three to ten years in state prison for sexual assault. Robert Venturi, the architect, died aged 93. Saudi Arabia opened a high-speed railway between Mecca and Medina, allowing the 280-mile journey to be made in just over two hours.

The Pope recognised seven bishops appointed by China in an agreement regularising future appointments. President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan met opposition leader Riek Machar in Khartoum to discuss the peace agreement signed the week before. The Prime Minister of Sweden will have to step down after losing the support of the country’s parliament. Manuel Valls, the former prime minister of France, is to stand for mayor of Barcelona. Sixty per cent of voters in a Swiss referendum rejected proposals for a ‘fair food’ policy promoting animal welfare.

Pirates kidnapped 12 crew from a Swiss cargo vessel in the Niger delta. An Indonesian teenager lost adrift at sea was found alive after 49 days. An injured solo yachtsman, Abhilash Tomy, was rescued by a French vessel 2,000 miles off Western Australia. At least 227 people drowned when a ferry with an official capacity of 100 capsized in Lake Victoria close to the Tanzanian island of Ukara. An operation began to remove 25,000 tyres sunk to make an artificial reef in the 1980s between Cannes and Antibes after it was found they were leaking poisonous chemicals. CSH

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