Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: A plot to oust May, terror in Sri Lanka and Ukraine’s comedy president

27 April 2019

9:00 AM

27 April 2019

9:00 AM


Theresa May, the Prime Minister, returned to parliament after the Easter recess to find backbenchers plotting to get rid of her. The 1922 Committee agonised over whether to change its rules in order to hold another vote of no confidence in her. More than 70 local Conservative association chiefs called an extraordinary general meeting of the National Conservative Convention to consider the proposition: ‘We no longer feel that Mrs May is the right person to continue as prime minister.’ A poll of Conservative councillors by Survation, for the Mail on Sunday, found that 40 per cent were planning to vote for the Brexit party in next month’s EU elections. One of the candidates for new party Change UK, which wants Britain to stay in the EU, is Rachel Johnson, the sister of MP Boris Johnson, a prominent supporter of Brexit. The government decided to let the Chinese company Huawei build part of Britain’s 5G data network. A ‘concreteberg’ 300 ft long and weighing 100 tons was found in an Islington sewer where it had formed from concrete poured down the drain.

The police allowed protesters against climate change to close Waterloo Bridge to traffic for a week, as well as Parliament Square, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus. The 9,000 police involved arrested 1,065 people, but only 53 were charged. The protesters were addressed by a frowning Greta Thunberg, aged 16, who misses classes every Friday to protest outside the Swedish parliament. A man was charged with arson after fire swept over Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire. While firemen were dealing with it another big fire broke out on Marsden Moor, started by a barbecue. Easter Monday was the hottest on record, with 25°C recorded at Heathrow, though the hottest Easter weekend day remained 29.4°C at Camden Square in London on Holy Saturday in 1949.

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, held out against inviting President Donald Trump of the United States to address parliament during his state visit for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in June. Lyra McKee, aged 29, a journalist, was shot dead in the Creggan estate in Londonderry during a riot in which more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police; a republican group called the New IRA was blamed. Ms McKee’s partner Sara Canning invited those coming to the funeral to wear Harry Potter and Marvel related items.


Bombs at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday killed at least 359 and wounded 500. The attacks hit Catholic churches in Negombo, Batticaloa and Colombo and three hotels in Colombo: the Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon. The Islamic State said it carried out the atrocity. One of the suicide bombers was said to have studied in Britain. Following the release of the 448-page (redacted) Mueller report into Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election, some Democrats called on Robert Mueller, who compiled it, to testify before Congress. President Donald Trump announced that exemptions for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey from sanctions for buying oil from Iran would end in May. Saudi Arabia said it had executed 37 men convicted of terrorism, crucifying one man after his death.

An astonishing proportion of the cathedral of Notre Dame was found to have survived the fire that destroyed the medieval woodwork forming the roof above its stone vaulting. President Emmanuel Macron had said that it would be rebuilt in five years and announced a competition between architects to design a new flèche. Gilets jaunes protesters clashed with police during the 23rd Saturday demonstration in Paris and other French cities.

The people of Ukraine elected as President the comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, whose best-known television role was as a man who accidentally becomes president of Ukraine; he took more than 73 per cent of the vote against the incumbent Petro Poroshenko. In a referendum, Egyptians voted for constitutional changes allowing President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030. Sudan’s military government told protesters to take down their barricades outside the army headquarters in Khartoum where they had been assembling since before the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir on 11 April. In the Indian elections, Pawan Kumar from a village in Uttar Pradesh cut off his index finger after voting for the wrong candidate, saying: ‘I accidentally pressed the button with a lotus symbol instead of an elephant.’                           CSH

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