Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: A resignation in Washington, Labour departures and a plague of toxic caterpillars

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

13 July 2019

9:00 AM


Sir Kim Darroch resigned as British ambassador to Washington after the Mail on Sunday published disobliging emails he had sent between 2017 and now, which said things like: ‘We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.’ In response President Donald Trump said: ‘We’re not big fans of that man.’ Next day, Trump added that he had told Theresa May, the Prime Minister, how to manage Brexit, ‘but she went her own foolish way — was unable to get it done. A disaster!’. As Conservative party members posted their votes, bookmakers put the chance of Boris Johnson becoming party leader at 95 per cent and of Jeremy Hunt at 5 per cent. Sir John Major, a former prime minister, said he would seek a judicial review if a prime minister tried to prorogue parliament to secure Brexit. Ocado said a fire at its Andover warehouse in February cost it £110 million.

Lord Triesman, Lord Darzi and Lord Turnberg resigned from the Labour party, accusing it of anti-Semitism. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said that, in another referendum on Brexit, his party ‘would campaign for Remain against either no deal or a Tory deal that does not protect the economy and jobs’. Sheffield city council, which in 2016 announced a 60-year billion-pound agreement with the Sichuan Guodong construction firm in China, admitted that the deal was ‘dead’, having spent £40,000 on trips connected with it. Among Labour MPs who said they would not contest the next election were Kate Hoey, 73, MP for Vauxhall since 1989; Geoffrey Robinson, 81, MP for Coventry North West since 1976; and Stephen Pound, 71, MP for Ealing North since 1997. A freeclimber, George King, 19, reached the top of the 1,017ft Shard building in London in 45 minutes.

In a debate on Northern Ireland, MPs voted to impose abortion and same-sex marriage on the province if its government is not restored by 21 October. The Information Commissioner’s Office fined British Airways £183 million for a breach of security last year that allowed hackers to get hold of about 500,000 customers’ details; next day it fined the US hotel group Marriott International £99 million for a breach that exposed the details of 339 million guests. Deutsche Bank, which employs 7,000 in the City, began cutting 18,000 jobs worldwide. Arthur Ryan, the founder of Primark, died aged 83. The Queen, visiting the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, gave her handbag to someone to hold and took up a spade, saying: ‘I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree.’


An Asian couple who spent $100,000 on IVF claimed that a mix-up at a California fertility clinic left them with the wrong children, who were not of Asian descent. Ross Perot, who twice ran for US president as an independent, died aged 89. An earthquake 150 miles north-east of Los Angeles left a crack in the desert but injured no one seriously. In June, 224,000 jobs were generated in the United States, far more than forecast. A fire at the Jim Beam warehouse in Versailles, Kentucky, destroyed 45,000 barrels of bourbon and led to the death of thousands of fish in the Kentucky river.

Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, said a bill to allow extradition to China, against which hundreds of thousands had marched in protest, was ‘dead’, but stopped short of saying it had been withdrawn. In the Greek elections, the centre-right New Democracy party, led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, beat the ruling left-wing Syriza party, led by Alexis Tsipras. João Gilberto, the Brazilian exponent of bossa nova, died aged 88. To curb crime, Addis Ababa banned motorbikes.

Mohsen Rezaei, an adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said a British oil tanker should be seized if an Iranian ship detained in Gibraltar was not released. British Royal Marines had assisted in arresting the supertanker Grace 1, suspected of carrying oil from Iran to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, visited Sicily to see the closing of the Mineo centre, where up to 4,000 migrants had been held. Earlier in the day, an Italian customs boat had put in at Pozzallo in Sicily with 47 migrants rescued on their way to Lampedusa. Firemen in Louvain, Belgium, fought a plague of toxic oak processionary caterpillars.     CSH

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