Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Boris’s barney, a stink at Southern Water and a pricy royal renovation

29 June 2019

9:00 AM

29 June 2019

9:00 AM


A neighbour of Boris Johnson, 55 (a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative party and hence for the prime ministership), recorded a loud argument Boris was having one night with Carrie Symonds, 31, in the flat in Camberwell they shared. The neighbour called the police (who later said ‘There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers’) and then gave the recording to the Guardian. Other newspapers immediately ran front-page reports of the incident. Mr Johnson and Miss Symonds had to leave the flat because of protesters in the street. Mr Johnson refused to answer press requests for an explanation. Three days later, a photograph of the couple holding hands in a garden was published by Mail Online. All the while Mr Johnson and his rival Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, each presented themselves to Conservative party members as the only man somehow to achieve Brexit. Mr Johnson said Britain must leave by 31 October ‘come what may, do or die’.

Mark Field was suspended as a Foreign Office minister after ejecting a woman trying to disrupt a Mansion House speech by the Chancellor; perhaps 30 climate-change protesters had walked into Mansion House unchallenged. A by-election was triggered at Brecon and Radnorshire when well above the necessary 10 per cent of constituents signed a recall petition against the Conservative MP, Chris Davies, who had been convicted of falsifying expenses; the MP is to stand for election again as the official Tory candidate. Lord Prescott was taken to hospital after suffering a stroke. Twelve people in Essex died of invasive group A streptococcal disease (iGAS).

Forterra is to go ahead with a £95 million investment to double brick production to 180 million a year at its plant near Desford, Leicestershire, making it the biggest brick factory in Europe. Southern Water is to give customers a rebate of at least £61 each, a total of £123 million over five years, after Ofwat found that between 2010 and 2017 it had spilled waste water from its sewage plants and misreported the performance of a number of sewage treatment sites. The Crown Estate produced £343 million for the Treasury; the Treasury provided £33 million for royal building maintenance, mostly for Buckingham Palace, and another £2.4 million of the Sovereign Grant went to converting Frogmore Cottage into a house for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The Appeal Court overturned an order by the Court of Protection that a developmentally disabled woman must have an abortion against her and her mother’s wishes. Paul Crossley, who has schizophrenia, was jailed for life for pushing a 91-year-old man on to London Underground tracks at Marble Arch; the judge said the paranoia that motivated him came from crack cocaine rather than his mental illness.


A week after Iran shot down a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz, the United States imposed sanctions intended to deny Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, access to financial resources. Initially, President Donald Trump of the United States had responded by approving military strikes against Iran, but he drew back from launching them. ‘Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force,’ Mr Trump tweeted five days later. ‘In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.’ Two of Germany’s 140 Eurofighter jets collided in an exercise over Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The German district court in Giessen prohibited Marburg University from investigating the hibernation of hamsters since the creatures would have been killed at the end of the experiment.

Turkey’s ruling AKP party lost control of Istanbul after 25 years, when a re-run of the mayoral election gave victory to Ekrem Imamoglu, of the Republican People’s party. The Turkistan Islamic party, a Chinese Uighur-dominated jihadist group of fighters, was reported to be supporting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Islamist alliance holding out in Idlib province against the Syrian government and Russian forces. The UN said 55,000 Isis fighters and their families being held in Iraq and Syria, including thousands of foreigners shunned by their home countries, must be tried or released.

The Council of Europe restored Russia’s voting rights five years after removing them because of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, which was part of Ukraine. Thousands of protesters marched in Hong Kong again, demanding the abandonment of a proposed law allowing extradition to the rest of China.                                CSH

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