Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: A Supreme Court ruling, Labour’s messy conference and Donald Trump’s ‘impeachment’

28 September 2019

9:00 AM

28 September 2019

9:00 AM


Eleven justices of the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that in advising the Queen to prorogue parliament ‘the Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful, void and of no effect’. This was because the prorogation had ‘the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions’. The court was not ‘concerned with the Prime Minister’s motive’. The court cited the Case of Proclamations (1611) to show that the limits of prerogative powers were determined by the courts. The judgment overturned the decision of the High Court that the prorogation should not even be considered by the courts. Lady Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, read out the judgment wearing a large spider brooch. Since parliament had not been prorogued, John Bercow the Speaker of the House of Commons, arranged for it to sit from the next day. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, flew back from the UN in New York. ‘We should have an election,’
he said.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, told the party conference in Brighton: ‘I will be a very different kind of prime minister.’ He had taken over the slot allocated for a speech by Tom Watson, the deputy leader, in order to return to the Commons the next day. Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum, had earlier tabled an unsuccessful motion to abolish the elected deputy leader’s post. Labour said it would abolish private schools and put their resources to state use. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that under Labour the working week would be four days or 32 hours, with ‘no loss of pay’. The world tour of Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes was delayed when the lead singer was rescued by 11 firemen from a crashed car in Devon with bruises and a dislocated kneecap.

The government held an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the collapse of Thomas Cook; Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, applied himself to getting 150,000 tourists home. Police arrested 19 people in connection with Heathrow Pause, a plan to fly drones near the airport in protest against climate change. In the first six months of 2019, 2,894 catalytic converters were stolen from cars in London, compared with 1,674 thefts in the whole of 2018; the rise in prices of rare metals in the equipment was blamed.


Saudi Arabia said it would take ‘necessary measures’ against Iran for the attacks on its oil facilities on 14 September. The United States said it was sending troops to Saudi Arabia to help with its air and missile defences. A joint statement by the leaders of France, Germany and Britain blamed Iran for the attacks. Mohammad Sharif Panahandeh, an Iranian sailor who is seriously ill, was released by Somali pirates after more than four years in captivity. Fifa said it had been assured that women in Iran would be able to attend football matches, starting with a World Cup qualifier next month.

The Democratic party in the House of Representatives began impeachment inquiries into allegations that President Donald Trump pressed Ukraine to dish dirt on Joe Biden. Tens of thousands of young people marched through Manhattan to protest against climate change before the UN meeting on the theme in New York, which was addressed by Greta Thunberg, from Sweden, still aged 16, who told the assembly: ‘You have stolen my dreams and my childhood.’ An anti climate change march in Paris was stopped after anarchists set fire to barricades. Walmart said it would stop selling e-cigarettes in the United States because of ‘uncertainty’ about regulations. India’s cabinet announced a ban on e-cigarettes, as a risk to health. The World Health Organization rebuked Tanzania for failing to provide information about possible Ebola virus infections.

The United States Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the second time since 2008, the target range being reduced to between 1.75 and 2 per cent. China authorised the auction of 10,000 tons of frozen pork from strategic reserves to counteract rising prices after the slaughter of a million pigs in a swine fever outbreak. Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that the remains of Francisco Franco should be exhumed from the Valley of the Fallen; the socialist government planned to rebury him next to his wife in El Pardo cemetery before elections in November. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, who is seeking re-election, said he ‘let a lot of people down’ in the past by assuming blackface by way of fancy dress. CSH

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