Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Twitter takeover, late nights for pubs and a row over leg-crossing

30 April 2022

9:00 AM

30 April 2022

9:00 AM


Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said Britain assessed that 15,000 Russians had been killed in the war against Ukraine and at least 530 Russian tanks, 530 armoured personnel carriers and 560 infantry fighting vehicles had been lost or captured. Sixty Russian helicopters and fighter jets had also been lost. He told the House of Commons that Britain was sending to Ukraine some Stormer armoured vehicles, with launchers for Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles. Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, called for aircraft to be sent too.

In the seven days up to 23 April, 2,207 people had died with coronavirus, bringing total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 173,693. In the previous week 1,289 had died. Numbers with Covid remaining in hospital in the United Kingdom fell from about 19,000 to about 16,000. In the year to March, Britain borrowed £151.8 billion, the third biggest annual figure since 1947, and paid a record £69.9 billion in debt interest; but tax receipts soared to £619.9 billion, an increase of £94.3 billion over the year before.

The Mail on Sunday reported that some Conservative MPs had claimed that Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, tried to distract Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, in parliament by crossing and uncrossing her legs. Seven black women told the BBC they had had unwanted sexual attentions from Tim Westwood, the DJ, between 1992 and 2017. The legal age of marriage in England and Wales was raised to 18. Four people were stabbed to death at a house in Bermondsey in London. Pubs will be able to stay open until one in the morning from 2 to 4 June for the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen, now 96.


Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland. The UN refugee agency said 5.2 million people had fled Ukraine, 90 per cent of them women and children. In Ukraine, 7.7 million people had been displaced; in all, almost two-thirds of Ukrainian children had left their homes. In Moldova, alarm increased after a Russian general, Rustam Minnekayev, said: ‘Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also cases of oppression of the Russian-speaking population.’ The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, after visiting President Zelensky in Kyiv, with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said he wanted to see ‘Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine’. An American ambassador was appointed, after a vacancy of three years. As America pledged another $713 million in military aid to Ukraine (bringing the total to $3.7 billion), Russia’s ambassador to Washington ‘demanded an end’ to the sending of weapons. Germany authorised the supply of about 50 anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine and said it would train Ukrainian troops on German soil. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said on state television: ‘Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy.’ Finland and Sweden were expected to make simultaneous applications in May to join Nato.

Russia hit five railway stations in Ukraine to disrupt arms supplies. A Russian missile struck flats in Odessa, killing a woman, her three-month-old daughter and her mother. Kharkiv was shelled continuously on the Eastern-rite Easter Sunday. The Azovstal steel works at Mariupol, covering four square miles, where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge, held out for another week against Russian forces. Refugees from the city of Mariupol told the BBC of terrible conditions in ‘filtration’ camps run by Russia. The International Criminal Court will join an EU team to investigate reported war crimes in Ukraine.

Emmanuel Macron was re-elected President of France, beating Marine Le Pen of the far-right Rassemblement National by 58.5 to 41.5 (compared with 66.1 to 33.9 in 2017); the turnout was 71.9 per cent, the lowest since 1969. The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 6,242,944 by the beginning of the week. China began testing 3.5 million in a district of Beijing, after keeping 25 million people in Shanghai locked down for weeks. The board of Twitter agreed to a $44 billion takeover by Elon Musk. The Earl and Countess of Wessex, on a visit to Antigua and Barbuda, were told by Gaston Browne, its prime minister: ‘I should say we aspire at some point to become a republic.’

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