Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Britain meets its new cabinet

3 August 2019

9:00 AM

3 August 2019

9:00 AM

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The Conservatives’ poll ratings went up and the pound went down after a week of the prime ministership of Boris Johnson, as the government reiterated its commitment to leaving the European Union by 31 October. David Frost, the Prime Minister’s chief Brexit negotiator, told his EU counterparts of the commitment and Rishi Sunak, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘We are turbo charging preparations for no deal.’ When Mr Johnson visited Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said he was ‘really pursuing a no-deal Brexit’. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: ‘I don’t think the government should pursue a no-deal Brexit.’ Before going on to Northern Ireland, Mr Johnson visited Wales,where Helen Roberts, of the National Sheep Association, said that if there was no Brexit deal, farmers would take the fight to the streets, though she did not specify which streets. In a by-election at Brecon and Radnorshire, a Conservative candidate stood who had just been removed by petition as an MP over trouble with his expenses. At an agricultural show at Llanelwedd, Radnorshire, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall met King Goodwill of the Zulus and one of his wives. Mr Johnson moved into Downing Street, with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds; a spokesman declared: ‘There won’t be any additional cost to the taxpayer.’

The nation got used to the new cabinet, including Sajid Javid, Chancellor; Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary; Priti Patel, Home Secretary; Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office Minister; Ben Wallace at Defence; Stephen Barclay, Brexit Secretary; Matt Hancock, Health; Gavin Williamson, Education; Andrea Leadsom, Business; Amber Rudd, Work and Pensions; Liz Truss, International Trade; Grant Shapps, Transport; Theresa Villiers, Environment; James Cleverly, minister without portfolio and party chairman; Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House. Dominic Cummings was appointed a senior advisor to the Prime Minister. In an open letter, Alastair Campbell said he would not want to rejoin Labour with Jeremy Corbyn in charge.


A criminal investigation should examine the searching of the homes of Lady Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor, said Sir Richard Henriques (a former High Court judge who wrote a report on Operation Midland), because police seeking warrants had falsely told a judge that Carl Beech (sentenced last week to 18 years in jail) had been consistent in his allegations. Sports Direct delayed publishing its annual results when a tax bill for €674 million from Belgium popped up. Bryan Magee, the MP and broadcaster on philosophy, died aged 89. A temperature of 38.7°C (101.7°F) in the Botanic Garden, Cambridge, on 25 July was confirmed as the highest ever in Britain.

Abroad

After the arrest of an alleged hacker, Capital One, an American credit card issuer, revealed that personal details of about 106 million people had been stolen. Marcus Hutchins, 25, from Ilfracombe, Devon, credited with helping to save the NHS from a cyber attack, was spared jail by a Wisconsin court for earlier conspiring to spread malware. Before being shot dead by police, a gunman aged 19 shot dead three people at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California. Kyle Giersdorf, 16, became world champion in the survivalist computer game Fortnite, winning $3 million.

Perhaps 150 migrants drowned and 134 were saved near the coast of Libya. Under an agreement between the United States and Guatemala, migrants from El Salvador and Honduras who passed through Guatemala would be required to seek asylum there first. Pro-government forces had killed more civilians (717) in Afghanistan in 2019 than insurgents had (531), according to UN figures. More than 100 people, including 26 children, died in air strikes in north-west Syria in ten days, according to Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Pope sent two cardinals to visit President Bashar Assad of Syria with a letter asking him to use ‘good will’ to end the civil war.

Protests continued in Hong Kong against Chinese interference. Six million rosewood trees were reported to have been cut down in Ghana for illegal export to China since 2012. A British woman who accused a group of 12 young Israelis of raping her in a hotel room in Cyprus was detained in custody after their release by the authorities.

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