Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: Westminster attack, House of Fraser and bridge collapse

18 August 2018

9:00 AM

18 August 2018

9:00 AM


Unemployment fell by 65,000 to 1.36 million — at 4 per cent the lowest level since 1975. The economy in the United Kingdom grew by 0.4 per cent in the second quarter, compared with 0.2 per cent in the first. The rate of inflation rose a jot from 2.4 to 2.5 per cent, measured by the Consumer Price Index. Sports Direct, run by Mike Ashley, agreed to buy the House of Fraser chain of 59 department stores for £90 million after it had gone into administration. Homebase said it was closing 42 of its 241 stores. Marks & Spencer closed seven clothes stores as part of its programme to close 100 by 2022. Ofcom fined Royal Mail £50 million for anti-competitive behaviour. Citizens Advice said that it would be realistic to extend the 2020 deadline for installing smart meters in 30 million homes and businesses to 2023. Sir V. S. Naipaul, the writer who won a Nobel Prize and the Booker Prize, died, aged 85.

Factions in the Conservative Party, mirroring Remainers and Brexiteers, denounced or praised Boris Johnson’s article in the Daily Telegraph from last week, which had opposed a total ban on the Muslim full face veil but described it as ridiculous. Jacob Rees-Mogg likened to a ‘show trial’ Mr Johnson’s referral to an investigatory panel to see if he had breached the party code of conduct: ‘Could it be that there is a nervousness that a once and probably future leadership contender is becoming too popular and needs to be stopped?’ Members of the Conservative party were sent letters advocating the proposals for Brexit put forward by Theresa May, the PM. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said he had been present but not ‘involved’ in wreath-laying at a memorial ceremony in Tunisia in 2014 for people linked to Black September, the terrorist group that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. The GMB, Unison Usdaw and CDW urged Labour to change its code of conduct on anti-Semitism to include all the examples set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

A man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after a car swerved into cyclists and pedestrians and crashed outside the Houses of Parliament. Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, convicted of manslaughter in 2015 and struck off over the death of a boy who died of sepsis at Leicester Royal Infirmary in 2011, won her appeal to practise medicine again. The England cricketer, Ben Stokes, was found not guilty of affray for his part in a fight outside a Bristol nightclub. A 24-hour walk-out by Ryanair pilots saw the cancellation of 400 flights. Northern cancelled about 80 rail services for the third consecutive Sunday.


The Turkish lira tumbled after America doubled tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. This followed friction between America and Turkey over the detention of a pastor, Andrew Brunson, who has been held for nearly two years under suspicion of supporting Fethullah Gulen, whose followers Turkey blames for an attempted coup in 2016. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said to America: ‘You fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner.’ A Californian jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million damages to a man who had used weedkiller containing glyphosate and had developed cancer. Rooks in the Puy du Fou theme park in the Vendée have been trained to collect cigarette ends in return for food.

Cars plunged 150 feet when a bridge collapsed in Genoa, killing at least 37 people. Dozens of cars were set on fire overnight in Gothenburg and other Swedish cities. In Bucharest, thousands of Romanians demonstrated against the government. At least 67 people were killed when a building was destroyed by the explosion of munitions said to belong to an arms trafficker in the rebel stronghold of Idlib in Syria. Nasa launched the Parker Solar Probe, to explore the corona of the sun.

Argentina’s senate rejected a bill to legalise abortion. At a meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, China denied reports that it was holding a million Uighurs in ‘counter-extremism centres’ in the autonomous region of Xinjiang. Two senior Kenyan government officials appeared in court charged with fraud over the building of a £2.5 billion Chinese-funded railway. A hippopotamus killed a Chinese tourist at Lake Naivasha, Kenya. To draw attention to the condition of Andhra Pradesh, an Indian MP, Naramalli Sivaprasad, attended parliament dressed as Hitler.  CSH

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