Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Labour’s anti-Semitic row, public-sector pay rises and Greek forest fires

28 July 2018

9:00 AM

28 July 2018

9:00 AM


Dame Margaret Hodge accused Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, of being an ‘anti-Semite’ and a ‘racist’ in front of a number of MPs at Westminster; within 12 hours she had received a disciplinary letter. ‘People have to be judged on what they do and not on what they say,’ she insisted on BBC radio. The government announced pay rises for a million public sector workers, with 2.9 per cent for the armed forces, 2.75 per cent for prison officers, up to 3.5 per cent for teachers and 2 per cent for police and general practitioners. The budget for London’s Crossrail project rose from £14.8 billion to £15.4 billion. London, with more rail journeys than all other regions of Great Britain combined, saw 23 per cent of its passengers standing each morning, the Department for Transport said. The BBC discontinued The Daily Politics after 2,700 episodes presented by Andrew Neil.

Theresa May declared: ‘I will lead the negotiations with the European Union, with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union deputising on my behalf.’ The Europe Unit led by the civil servant Olly Robbins would have ‘overall responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations’, Mrs May said. Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, suggested to the Sunday Telegraph that he was still trying to convince other cabinet ministers that the government’s ‘pragmatic’ strategy for leaving the EU was the best plan. The Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill was published, with a provision on the ‘Divorce Bill’ that allowed the EU to ‘inform the UK of the required payment amounts during the transition process’. Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist MP for North Antrim, was suspended from the Commons for 30 sitting days after failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. A pair of beavers were released into the Forest of Dean.

Two Dutchmen appeared in court after a customs cutter intercepted a yacht carrying two tons of cocaine off Cornwall. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency said that two eight-year-olds have been caught speeding in the last two years. A three-year-old boy was treated for serious burns to his arm and face from an acid attack at Home Bargains in Shrub Hill Retail Park, Worcester. Heat and drought continued, with places in England having had no significant rainfall for eight weeks.


At least 77 people died and dozens were missing after wildfires swept through the Greek coastal village of Mati in Attica, driving many to take refuge in the sea. Dozens of fires raged in Swedish forests, from Malmo to the Arctic Circle. Japan was hit by a heatwave, with temperatures in Kyoto temperatures remaining above 100°F for seven days. Nine people from one family were among the 17 who drowned when an amphibious tourist boat sank during a thunderstorm on Table Rock Lake, Missouri. In Laos, hundreds were missing after the collapse of a hydroelectric dam. The boys rescued from a cave in Thailand, except for one who is a Christian, had their heads shaved as they joined a Buddhist monastery for a spell.

Israel evacuated 422 members of the White Helmets civil defence group and their families from a war zone in south-western Syria, taking them by night through Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to Jordan. They will be resettled in Britain, Germany and Canada, which requested Israel’s help. A bomb killed 31 in Quetta as Pakistan went to the polls. Vice-President Abdul Rashid Dostum of Afghanistan, the former warlord, escaped death when a bomb was set off as he arrived at Kabul airport after more than a year in Turkey.

Italy re-opened its ports to migrant boats, giving the EU five weeks to reach a deal before it shuts the borders again and spurning the EU offer of €6,000 for each migrant taken in. President Donald Trump addressed a tweet to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, written entirely in capital letters: ‘NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE,’ it began. Bruno Le Maire, the French trade minister, said a trade war with America was now a reality. Mr Trump said he was ready to impose tariffs on all $500 billion of imports from China. He also condemned his former lawyer Michael Cohen after reports that he had secretly recorded Mr Trump discussing payments to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal.   CSH

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