Portrait of the week

Potrait of the Week: prisons to be ‘academies’and West to arm Libya

Plus: Boris Johnson provokes ‘Hitler’ Brexit row, Old Trafford evacuated as fake bomb is found, Ukrain wins Eurovision

21 May 2016

9:00 AM

21 May 2016

9:00 AM


In the Queen’s Speech, the government made provision for bills against extremism and in favour of driverless cars, drones, commercial space travel and adoption. It proposed turning all prisons into academies or something similar and consolidating British rights while reducing the power of the House of Lords. The watchword was ‘life chances’. Boris Johnson MP said that the EU was an attempt to recover the continent’s lost ‘golden age’, under the Romans: ‘Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically.’ For his part, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that in the event of Britain leaving the EU, ‘Putin would be happy. I suspect al-Baghdadi [leader of the Islamic State] would be happy.’ Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence party, said that if the Remain side won a narrow victory in the referendum there would have to be another one. Brighton council took out of service a dustcart painted with the Union flag lest it be mistaken for a Brexit ‘battlebus’.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, told a conference on migration: ‘For the EU to offer visa-free access to 75 million Turks to stem the flow of migrants across the Aegean seems perverse, like storing gasoline next to the fire one is trying to extinguish.’ A report for the European Commission predicted that the visa arrangement with Turkey would mean ‘increased mobility into the Schengen area of criminals and terrorists’. The annual UK rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Prices Index, fell to 0.3 per cent in April, from 0.5 per cent in March; as measured by the Retail Prices Index it fell to 1.3 from 1.6 per cent. China’s ICBC Standard Bank agreed to buy from Barclays a vault in London big enough to store 2,000 tons of gold.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, told the Police Federation’s annual conference that victims of domestic abuse were ‘still being let down’ and so she had asked Sir Tom Winsor, head of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, to investigate. Emergency services, the BBC discovered, were called to incidents in British prisons more than 26,600 times last year — once every 20 minutes. The BBC said it was saving £15 million a year from its £4.722 billion expenditure by closing down BBC Food (but not BBC Good Food) online, threatening to make its 11,000 recipes almost impossible to find. A football game between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford was abandoned when someone found a bomb replica in a lavatory. It had been left there four days earlier by a company carrying out a security exercise.


John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said that world powers were ready to arm Libya’s UN-backed unity government to help it fight the Islamic State. Hezbollah said that Mustafa Amine Badreddine, its chief military commander in Syria, had been killed by jihadist artillery fire near Damascus airport. An attack by the Islamic State on a gas plant near Baghdad killed at least 14 people. An earlier attack on a café in the northern city of Balad killed 13 Real Madrid fans who were watching football on television. Millions of tyres at a dump near Seseña, 20 miles south of Madrid, caught fire, sending up a great plume of smoke and provoking a considerable fuss among those who feared toxic consequences. In Bangladesh, at least 50 people died when they were struck by lightning.

The number of migrants known to have died this year while trying to cross from Libya to Italy rose to more than 1,000. Jamala won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine with ‘1944’, a song about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Stalin. Sergei Aksyonov, the prime minister of Crimea’s Russian-backed government, brought up the theft of sand from beaches in a piece for Komsomolskaya Pravda. George Zimmerman, acquitted after shooting dead Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, in Sanford, Florida, in 2012, put up for auction online the pistol used.

Dilma Rousseff was suspended as president of Brazil pending the outcome of her trial by the senate on charges of illegally manipulating finances to hide a growing public deficit before elections two years ago. The government of Venezuela imposed a state of emergency and ruled out a referendum on removing President Nicolas Maduro from office. Madeleine Lebeau, the French actress best known for her role as Yvonne, tearfully singing the Marseillaise in the film Casablanca, died aged 92. CSH

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