Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: English lessons, civil partnerships, the price of oil

Plus: junior doctors, Burkino Faso, Jakarta, drug trials

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

23 January 2016

9:00 AM


David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that Muslim women must learn English, and that those who had entered on spousal visas would be told halfway through their five-year spousal settlement: ‘You can’t guarantee you can stay if you are not improving your language.’ He said that learning English had ‘a connection with combating extremism’. A heterosexual couple went to the High Court to claim the right to enter into a civil partnership. MI5, the security service, was rated as Britain’s most gay-friendly employer, following a survey by the organisation Stonewall.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said: ‘Now is not the time to raise interest rates.’ Tata Steel said it was cutting 1,050 jobs in the United Kingdom, including 750 at Port Talbot, Britain’s biggest steelworks; the company and unions blamed cheap imports from China. Unemployment fell to 5.1 per cent, the lowest since 2005. The annual rate of inflation rose to 0.2 per cent in December from 0.1 per cent in November, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, and to 1.2 per cent from 1.1 per cent according to the Retail Prices Index. Alan Rickman, the actor, died aged 69.

The British Medical Association suspended a 48-hour junior doctors’ strike in England planned for 26-28 January. In a report on why Labour lost the election in 2015, Dame Margaret Beckett picked out four reasons: Ed Miliband; ‘the myth’ that Labour was to blame for the financial crash; benefits and immigration; and a fear of the SNP ‘propping up’ a minority Labour government. A report by Sir Richard Henriques, a retired High Court judge, found that Greville Janner, who died in December, could have been prosecuted for child abuse in 1991, 2002 and 2007, had it not been for failings by Leicestershire police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Nicolas Bramall expressed outrage at the continuing anonymity of the man who made baseless accusations of child abuse against his father Field Marshal Lord Bramall, aged 92, who has been told by letter that, after ten months, the police would take no further action.


The price of oil fell below $30 a barrel, compared with more than $100 in January 2014. Economic sanctions against Iran were lifted by the P5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany) after the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that it had complied with restrictions on its nuclear activities; Iran responded by ordering its oil production to increase by 500,000 barrels a day. China’s economy grew by 6.9 per cent in 2015, according to official figures; its slowest rate in 25 years. Glenn Frey, a guitarist with The Eagles who helped write ‘Hotel California’, died aged 67. Three winners from California, Tennessee and Florida shared a $1.6 billion lottery prize.

At least 29 people were killed in an attack on the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, carried out by gunmen from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. A day earlier, four civilians and four attackers died in a bomb and gun attack in Jakarta, Indonesia, by adherents of the Islamic State. In Iraq, at least 18,800 people had been killed between the beginning of 2014 and the end of October 2015, and 3.2 million people displaced internally, according to a UN report which said that the ‘so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continues to commit systematic and widespread violence’.

The EU hatched a plan to scrap the Dublin agreement that obliges migrants seeking asylum to claim it in the first country they come to. The Danish parliament debated proposals to seize migrants’ cash and jewellery worth more than £1,000. Migrants attempting to cross from Greece to Macedonia found more stringent border checks. Male asylum seekers were barred from a public swimming pool in Bornheim in Germany after women complained of harassment. Police told 2,000 migrants camping within 100 metres of a motorway in Calais to move their tents. Sixty firemen put out a large fire on the top floor of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. A man died and four others were left with neurological problems during a drug trial in Rennes, France. Athletes from Russia and Turkey who failed drugs tests had paid bribes to the International Association of Athletics Federations, in which ‘corruption was embedded’, according to a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan proposed dropping the swastika symbol, called manji in Japanese, as a marker for temples on tourist maps for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  CSH

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  • davidshort10

    Last time I looked it was Burkina Faso, unlike what the sub-headline writer wrote – ‘Burkino Faso’. Clue: it is in the text. More unpaid teenage interns as subs?