Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

23 October 2021

9:00 AM

23 October 2021

9:00 AM

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Sir David Amess, aged 69, the Conservative MP for Southend West, was stabbed to death while taking a constituency surgery at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Police stopped a priest reaching him to administer the last rites. They arrested Ali Harbi Ali, 25, a British man of Somali heritage, who was detained under the Terrorism Act. The Queen agreed that Southend should be granted the status of a city, which Sir David had long campaigned for. Dennis Hutchings, 80, a former soldier on trial in Belfast for the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham, 27, in 1974, died after catching Covid.

In the seven days up to the beginning of this week, 830 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 138,527. (In the previous week deaths had numbered 787.) Numbers remaining in hospital rose a little to about 7,086. Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, called for ‘Mask wearing in crowded places, avoiding unnecessary indoor gatherings, I think working from home if you can’. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said there were shortages of NHS staff to answer 111 and 999 calls.


At least 806 migrants in three days crossed the Channel to England in small boats, bringing to 19,400 the number who had made the crossing this year. Sir Gerry Robinson, the Irish-born businessman and broadcaster, died aged 72. The government announced some plans to achieve net-zero carbon: £620 million in grants for electric vehicles and street charging points, and £120 million to develop small modular nuclear reactors. ‘We want to be the Qatar of hydrogen,’ declared Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister. People in England and Wales will be offered £5,000 from April to replace gas boilers with electric heat pumps; but the funds would only cover 90,000. Caught up in the gas-price crisis, Goto Energy went bust, following Pure Planet and Colorado Energy the previous week and nine suppliers in September. The annual rate of inflation fell from 3.2 to 3.1 per cent. The government took over the operation of Southeastern’s train services after the franchise was taken away from Govia. Subtitles on Channel 4, out of operation since a fire on 25 September, were unlikely to be restored before November.

Abroad

China denied a report in the Financial Times that it had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, insisting that it was a routine spacecraft check. North Korea fired a ballistic missile into waters off Japan. President Xi Jinping, the ruler of China, was unlikely to attend the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the British Prime Minister was told. Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, died from complications of Covid, aged 84. About 50 container ships were waiting to unload at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California, because imports had risen but there were not enough lorry drivers or port staff to deal with them. Colombian authorities fed contraceptives to a herd of 80 hippopotamuses breeding in the wild descended from a pair imported by the drug baron Pablo Escobar.

The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 4,909,689 by the beginning of the week. Russia reported more than 1,000 deaths a day. In Damascus a bomb killed at least 13 on a military bus. Police in Melbourne seized 450kg of heroin, the largest shipment ever intercepted in Australia, said to be worth £76 million. A gang called 400 Mawozo was blamed for the abduction of five men, seven women and five children returning from a visit by North American missionaries to an orphanage near Port-au-Prince. Floods afflicted Kerala.

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister of Poland, accused the EU of blackmail after Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, said she would take action in the light of a Polish court ruling that EU law did not always have primacy over national legislation. Five people who were reported to have been killed by arrows in Kongsberg in Norway, after a Danish Muslim convert began shooting with a bow, were in fact killed by some other sharp object, police announced. Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that he would make prostitution illegal; it was decriminalised in 1995 under Socialist prime minister Felipe González. On the Canary island of La Palma 1,800 buildings had been destroyed in four weeks by lava from the erupting Cumbre Vieja volcano.

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