Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Scottish independence, striking lawyers and the end of Roe vs Wade

2 July 2022

9:00 AM

2 July 2022

9:00 AM


Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said that military spending had to increase. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, reacted to the loss of two by-elections by saying ‘I’ve got to listen to what people are saying’, but did not resign. Oliver Dowden said ‘Somebody must take responsibility’, and resigned as a co-chairman of the Conservative party. Later Mr Johnson joked to reporters in Kigali, Rwanda, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting: ‘I’m thinking actively about the third term.’ The Liberal Democrats won Tiverton and Honiton with a swing of 29.9 per cent from the Conservatives; the Conservative majority of 24,239 from the 2019 general election was the largest ever overturned in a by-election. On the same day, Labour regained Wakefield with a majority of 4,925 and a swing of 12.7 per cent from the Tories. As soon as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act came into effect, police seized the sound equipment of the Stop Brexit Man, Steve Bray, familiar for his protests outside parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, announced that she would hold another Scottish independence referendum on 19 October 2023, and ask the Supreme Court to rule it lawful. The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, to allow the government to override some of its provisions, had its second reading. The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus rose to one in 40 in England and one in 20 in Scotland (from one in 50 and one in 30 a week earlier). Five small boats with 231 migrants crossed the Channel on 24 June, bringing the total for the week to 837. The population of England and Wales went up to 59,597,300 by 2021, 6.3 per cent higher than in 2011, bringing the population of the United Kingdom to 66,966,400. The population of Tower Hamlets rose by 22.1 per cent; that of Cardiganshire fell by 5.8 per cent. Paul McCartney, aged 80, played for two hours, 50 minutes at Glastonbury.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary began monitoring the Metropolitan Police with ‘additional scrutiny’, as though it were a school in special measures. After a week of rail strikes, barristers in England and Wales in criminal cases went on strike, disrupting eight out of ten cases at the Old Bailey. Some 115,000 Royal Mail workers voted on whether to go on strike. A three-year-old Highland bull belonging to the Queen, called Gusgurlach of Balmoral, won at the Royal Highland Show.


After Severodonetsk in Ukraine fell entirely to the Russian assault, the governor of the nearby besieged city of Lysychansk urged civilians there: ‘Save yourself and your loved ones.’ The Amstor shopping centre in the city of Kremenchuk was hit by a Russian missile and engulfed in flames. Russian missiles struck a Kyiv factory and a residential block. Russia was reported to be removing stolen grain from Ukraine by road, rail and ship. Nato announced an increase in its forces at high readiness from 40,000 to more than 300,000 troops. Turkey agreed to support Nato membership for Finland and Sweden. G7 leaders at a summit said: ‘We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.’ Referring to Mr Putin’s former shirtless excursions into the wild, Boris Johnson made G7 leaders laugh by urging: ‘Show them our pecs.’

The US Supreme Court set aside the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court judgment of 1973, which had ruled that the government had no power to prohibit abortions. Following the new ruling, 13 states with trigger laws in place automatically made abortion illegal. The Supreme Court also struck down a New York law restricting firearms outside the home. In a third judgment the Supreme Court ruled that a school in public ownership was wrong to punish its football coach for praying at midfield after his team’s game. Ghislaine Maxwell, aged 60, was sentenced to 20 years for recruiting and trafficking four teenage girls for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein. Fifty migrants from Latin America were found dead in an abandoned lorry near San Antonio, Texas, with 16 survivors.

Five days after an earthquake in Afghanistan, villages were still without help; an initial estimate of deaths was 1,000. Sri Lanka, in an economic crisis, suspended the sale of petrol for two weeks except for essential services. A crane at the port of Aqaba in Jordan dropped a container of chlorine, letting out a yellow cloud and killing 13. CSH

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