Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Cameron’s cash, A-grades abound and Tower Bridge won’t budge

14 August 2021

9:00 AM

14 August 2021

9:00 AM


With less frightening domestic data on the coronavirus pandemic to ponder, subjects such as the rivalry between Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, found time for discussion. The seven-day average of coronavirus cases detected by tests remained below 30,000. In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 637 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 130,281. (In the previous week deaths had numbered 524.) In a week, numbers remaining in hospital fell from 5,943 to 5,631. Three quarters of adults had received two doses of vaccine, but numbers crept up very slowly for first vaccinations, because of the low uptake by those under 35. The percentage of adults in England likely to have Covid antibodies was 93.6 (in the week beginning 12 July), according to the Office for National Statistics, compared with 89.1 a month earlier. Booster vaccinations would begin in September.

In response to a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Boris Johnson said: ‘We know what must be done to limit global warming — consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the front line.’ The report had said: ‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land.’ The BBC’s Panorama said that David Cameron, the former prime minister, had made £7 million from his work for Greensill before it went bust in March. Almost one in five shopping-centre units now lie empty, with more than one in eight having been empty for more than a year, according to the British Retail Consortium.

A-levels awarded without examination for the second year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, gave A* or A grades to 44.8 per cent of candidates. The number of migrants reaching England in small boats in a single day hit 482, with the total for 2021 well over 10,000. Tower Bridge opened to let a tall sailing ship through and got stuck with its bascules up.


Nine of Afghanistan’s 34 province capitals fell to the Taleban in four days. The United States and Britain urged their citizens to leave the country immediately. Andrew Cuomo resigned as Governor of New York; an inquiry by the New York Attorney General’s office had found that he had sexually harassed several women. Job vacancies in the United States rose to 10.1 million at the end of June. President Joe Biden said that because Hong Kong’s freedoms were being violated by China, visitors from there would be able to stay in America for 18 months. Michael Spavor, a Canadian businessman, was jailed for 11 years in China on charges of spying. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian sentenced in China to 15 years in jail on charges of attempted drug smuggling from China to Australia, and on appeal in 2019 sentenced to death, lost his appeal against the death sentence. In the Olympic Games, the United States beat China in the number of medals won, well ahead of Japan, the host country, with Great Britain in fourth place (matching its total from London in 2012), just ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee, which stood proxy for the disqualified Russian team. Lionel Messi bade an emotional farewell to Barcelona football club, which could not afford his wages, and joined Paris Saint-Germain. The campaign to free Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, was disbanded after she was photographed in Iceland.

The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 4,232,448 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 64,324 from the week before. Soldiers enforced a lockdown in Sydney. With the number of Australians allowed to return home from abroad each week reduced to 3,000, Australians who usually live abroad would also have to apply for permission to leave the country. A man in Guinea died of Marburg virus disease, a highly infectious haemorrhagic fever not known before in west Africa.

Hundreds of people were taken off the large island of Euboea (Evia) in Greece as wildfires swept the dry land. Dozens were killed by wildfires in Algeria. Floods damaged houses and agricultural land in North Korea. A Rwandan failed asylum seeker aged 40, who had been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire that badly damaged Nantes cathedral last year, was charged with the murder of a priest at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre in the Vendée on Sunday. CSH

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