Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Britain’s knife crime epidemic, a trip to Brussels and Emmanuel Macron’s EU plea

9 March 2019

9:00 AM

9 March 2019

9:00 AM


Two 17-year-olds were stabbed to death in London and Manchester, bringing the number of teenagers killed in knife crime this year to ten. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said that there was ‘no direct correlation between certain crimes and police numbers’. Next day, Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said: ‘There is some link between violent crime on the streets obviously and police numbers, of course there is.’ The owners of Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner are to close 27 of their 87 restaurants. The family that has owned the British sports-car maker Morgan for 110 years is selling it to an Italian venture capitalist firm, Investindustrial. The philosopher A.C. Grayling won £20,000 libel damages against a Twitter user called Peter North, who made false allegations in a tweet saying: ‘I’d bet good money that A.C. Grayling has a hard drive full of underage botty sex videos.’ The government said that perhaps by 2020 it would stop low-level letter boxes being fitted in new houses.

Stephen Barclay, the Brexit Secretary, and Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, were sent off to Brussels to bring back some proof that the Irish backstop was not to be eternal, in order to sway a vote in the Commons on Tuesday. George Eustice resigned as environment minister over May’s promise to allow MPs a vote
on delaying Brexit. The Prime Minister promised £1.6 billion (over six years) to areas doing badly economically; the offer was derided by some as an attempt to bribe Labour MPs to vote for her Brexit deal. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, found he had buoyant tax receipts from January as he prepared for the spring statement. The Independent Group of 11 MPs had talks with the Electoral Commission about setting up as a new party. A patient was found to be free from HIV after receiving a bone-marrow transplant from a donor resistant to HIV.

Dame Margaret Hodge wrote to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, saying: ‘I distinctly remember it being said that it would be appalling if staff in the Leader’s Office intervened or had a role in complaints’ about anti-Semitism’, adding that a report in the Observer showed staff did intervene. Improvised explosive devices were sent in A4 postal bags to Heathrow airport, London City airport and Waterloo station. Nine men, Basharat Khaliq, Saeed Akhtar, Naveed Akhtar, Parvaze Ahmed, Izar Hussain, Zeeshan Ali, Kieran Harris, Fahim Iqbal and Mohammed Usman were jailed for raping and abusing two teenage girls living in a Bradford children’s home. Keith Flint, the singer with the Prodigy, died aged 49. John Bloom, whose enterprise selling cheap washing machines collapsed in 1964, died aged 87.


Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, wrote in the Guardian and newspapers in all other 27 EU states, saying: ‘Never since the second world war has Europe been so essential. Yet never has Europe been in such danger. Brexit stands as the symbol of that.’ Among his proposals were a ‘European Agency for the Protection of Democracies to provide each EU member state with European experts to protect their election process’, and a Europe-wide border force agency and asylum office. Traffic jams built up at Calais as customs officers worked to rule.

President Donald Trump of the United States said he wanted to end preferential trade status for India and Turkey. He had returned home after cutting short talks with Kim Jong-un, the ruler of North Korea, blaming in part the decision ‘to interview in open hearings a convicted liar and fraudster’. He was referring to testimony given to Congress by Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, who had said: ‘I know what Mr Trump is. He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.’ Tornadoes killed 23 people in Alabama, seven from one family. André Previn, the American musician, died aged 89.

Li Keqiang, the second most powerful man in China, announced tax cuts of £227 billion to boost the flagging economy. Carlos Ghosn, the former boss of Nissan charged with financial misconduct, was granted bail of one billion yen (£6.8 million) by a Tokyo court. Yago Riedijk, a former Islamic State fighter held by the Kurds in Syria, and married to the British-born Shamima Begum (who is in a refugee camp in Syria) told the BBC he wanted her to return with him to his native Holland. The United Arab Emirates sponsored a women-only taxi service in Grozny, the capital
of Chechnya.  CSH

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