Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: May’s deal, water cannon, John Worboys and Interpol

24 November 2018

9:00 AM

24 November 2018

9:00 AM

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Five pizza-eating cabinet ministers — Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt, Liam Fox, Michael Gove and Chris Grayling — put it about that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, could be persuaded to amend the draft withdrawal agreement with the EU before she signs it at a summit this Sunday. But Mrs May said that she had a deal and was determined to ‘deliver’ it. Having warned that if her Brexit withdrawal agreement was rejected Britain could end up either with no deal or no Brexit, Mrs May went off to Brussels, leaving the new Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, behind. Jacob Rees-Mogg had declared that he had sent a letter to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, calling for Mrs May to go; 48 in all were required, but numbers rose slowly, and some MPs withdrew their letters after sending them. Asked if his plot had descended into a Dad’s Army farce, Mr Rees-Mogg said: ‘I’ve always admired Captain Mainwaring.’ The ten Democratic Unionists abstained on votes for the Finance Bill ‘to show our displeasure’, as their Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson put it. Three water cannons bought and refurbished for more than £320,000 while Boris Johnson was Mayor of London were sold for £11,000.

The BBC began a consultation on how licence fees for over-75s should be paid for after the government stops funding them in 2020; the cost of such licences is expected to be £745 million a year, a fifth of the BBC’s current budget. The sugar tax on soft drinks introduced in April had raised £153.8 million by the end of October. Planning permission was sought for a 1,000ft tower called the Tulip, though it would more resemble an amaryllis in bud, to be built next to the Gherkin in the City of London. Richard Baker, the first person to read the news on BBC television, died aged 93.


The ‘black cab rapist’ John Worboys must stay in prison, the Parole Board ruled, ten months after recommending that he should be freed, a ruling that the High Court had overturned. Ash dieback could be dealt with ‘in decades instead of several hundred years’ by growing seeds from resistant trees, according to Professor James Brown, from the John Innes Centre in Norwich.

Abroad

Michel Barnier suddenly let it be known that the 21-month Brexit transition period could be extended by another 24 months, until the end of 2022; Britain would be paying £14.5 billion a year to the EU after 2020. Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister of Spain said that it would veto the draft Brexit withdrawal deal unless it was made clear that talks on the status of Gibraltar would have to be negotiated between Spain and the UK.

Police in Japan arrested Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi and the chairman and CEO of Renault; he was accused of understating the amount of his salary. Interpol chose a South Korean as its president after international consternation at the front-runner, Alexander Prokopchuk, being a Russian official; the previous president, a Chinese man, was arrested in China and never seen again. Airbnb said it would remove from its listings all homes in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Tumblr app was removed from Apple’s app store because some users had managed to post images of child sexual abuse that evaded data filters.

President Donald Trump of the United States stood by commercial links with Saudi Arabia, even though the CIA was reported to believe that the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. ‘If we foolishly cancel these contracts,’ Mr Trump said, ‘Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries.’ He said he had not wanted to listen to the tape provided by Turkey of Mr Khashoggi’s murder. Fighting broke out in Al-Hudaydah in Yemen despite both the Saudi-led military coalition and Houthi rebels agreeing to a ceasefire. A US federal judge put a temporary block on an order by President Trump to deny the possibility of asylum to migrants crossing the southern border illegally. In California hundreds were missing after wildfires had killed at least 84. In Guatemala, up to 4,000 people fled as the Fuego volcano erupted for the fifth time this year. A suicide bomb attack on a gathering of religious scholars in Kabul on Mohammed’s birthday killed at least 50 people. A woman writer called Liu was sentenced to ten years in prison in China for publishing a novel with male homosexual scenes. CSH

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