Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Gove confesses, Brexit party falters and the BBC makes pensioners pay

15 June 2019

9:00 AM

15 June 2019

9:00 AM


Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, a candidate for the Conservative leadership, admitted he had used cocaine several times 20 years ago. ‘I deeply regret the mistake that I made,’ he said. ‘It was a crime.’ He also said: ‘Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn’t imagine I would go into politics.’ His admission came as the Daily Mail published extracts from a biography on Gove by Owen Bennett, due to be released next month, that relates an earlier admission of cocaine use to party colleagues. Ten candidates for the leadership started the race after Sam Gyimah withdrew: Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart. Later on Thursday, those failing to get the backing of 16 MPs were to be knocked out. Gove had proposed abolishing VAT in favour of a ‘lower, simpler’ alternative. Johnson suggested raising the threshold for the 40 per cent rate of income tax to £80,000. Three hospital patients died after eating chicken sandwiches, supplied by the Good Food Chain, contaminated with listeria bacteria.

The momentum of the Brexit party faltered when it narrowly failed to win Peterborough in a by-election, the seat being held by Labour with 10,484 votes, a majority of 683. The Conservative candidate polled 7,243 and the Liberal Democrats in fourth place polled 4,159. When Jeremy Corbyn met the parliamentary Labour party, he was criticised by Dame Margaret Hodge and others for not dealing with anti-Semitism; the new MP for Peterborough apologised to MPs for having ‘liked’ a Facebook post that had included the remark that Theresa May had a ‘Zionist slave masters agenda’. Among the 508 women and 565 men listed in the Queen’s birthday honours, knighthoods went to Simon Russell Beale, the actor; Stephen Cleobury, director of music at King’s College, Cambridge; Alexander Younger, chief of MI6; Andrew Parker, director of MI5, and Boyd Tunnock, inventor of Tunnock’s teacakes. New dames included Julie Kenny, the chair of the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust and Rachel Whiteread, the sculptor.

Theresa May promised legislation to ensure net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The BBC is to stop giving free television licences to 3.7 million over-75s, limiting them to households claiming pension credit. Unemployment remained at 3.8 per cent, its lowest since 1974, and wages rose faster, at a rate of 3.4 per cent, than inflation. Landlords of the Arcadia group’s shops were unpersuaded by proposals for rent reduction made by its chairman Sir Philip Green, whose retail chain is on the brink of administration. Ford said its engine factory at Bridgend, which employs 1,700, would close next year.


Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the chief executive of Hong Kong, said she would not drop a bill to allow extradition to mainland China, despite mass protests with attendance numbered by the organisers at a million. Three men were jailed for life for the rape, torture and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Indian-administered Kashmir; she had been held captive at a temple in an apparent attempt to terrorise a nomadic tribe.

In Sudan a campaign of civil disobedience including a national strike began in an attempt to get the military government to make way for civilian rule; more than 100 protesters had been killed on 3 June by a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces said. At least 95 people were killed when Fulani men on pick-up trucks and motorbikes attacked the Dogon village of Sobame Da in central Mali, sparing neither the old nor children. In Burkina Faso, 19 villagers were killed by Islamists. Attacks on villages in northern Nigeria by men on motorbikes left 43 dead in one night.

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, said that under a deal with the United States to avert the imposition of tariffs on Mexican goods, his country had 45 days to reduce the number of migrants crossing its territory on their way to the United States. More than four million Venezuelans have fled their country in an economic and humanitarian crisis, the UN said. Venezuela reopened its border with Colombia for the first time in four months. Seven migrants — two children, four women and a man — drowned when a boat overturned off the Greek island of Lesbos. Swarms of locusts destroyed 5,000 acres of crops in central Sardinia.                     CSH

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