Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: The top job for Boris, gifts for Theresa and Carl Beech’s conviction

27 July 2019

9:00 AM

27 July 2019

9:00 AM


Boris Johnson became Prime Minister after being elected the leader of the Conservative party by its members, with 92,153 votes to Jeremy Hunt’s 46,656 and a turnout of 87.4 per cent. Philip Hammond got his resignation as chancellor of the exchequer in before he could be sacked, as did David Gauke as justice secretary and Sir Alan Duncan as a Foreign Office minister. Plots were afoot to undermine Mr Johnson’s promise to leave the European Union by 31 October, with or without an agreement. David Frost, a former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, was appointed to the job of liaising with the EU over Brexit, relinquished by the civil servant Oliver Robbins. The leadership of the Liberal Democrats went to Jo Swinson, who beat Sir Ed Davey by 47,997 votes to 28,021. At her last cabinet, its members gave Theresa May a Liberty bucket bag, a canvas clutch and a Lalique necklace costing £1,500 in total. Sir Roger Scruton was reinstated in his unpaid advisory post on the Government’s ‘Building better, building beautiful’ commission; James Brokenshire, the minister responsible for sacking him, apologised for his mistake.

Carl Beech, 51, was found guilty on 12 counts of perverting the course of justice for falsely accusing public figures including Sir Edward Heath, Lord Janner, Sir Maurice Oldfield, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor of sexual crimes against boys, and of murder. Beech, called ‘Nick’ in the media when he made his allegations, was also convicted of receiving a £22,000 criminal injuries payment after falsely claiming he had been raped by Jimmy Savile. Police had spent more than £2 million investigating the baseless accusations, which they had called ‘credible and true’. Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour party, was criticised for having said in parliament that a powerful Westminster paedophile ring needed investigating. The government shelved a decision on what involvement Huawei should have in the 5G network. Metropolitan Police computers were hacked and tweets sent out such as: ‘We are the police, Cal and Dylan are gay btw.’

Jeremy Corbyn gained Labour party agreement for referring the most serious cases of anti-Semitism to a special panel of the National Executive Committee with powers to expel an offender. Wes Streeting, a Labour MP, said the plans ‘don’t carry the support of the mainstream Jewish community’. Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town was sacked as the shadow Brexit minister for making a joke about Mr Corbyn resembling Hitler in the bunker. Two men who ate raw squirrel outside a vegan food stall in Soho were fined for disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.


Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured the Stena Impero, a British-flagged tanker, in the Strait of Hormuz and took it with its 23 Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino crew to Bandar Abbas. A second tanker, the British-owned MV Mesdar, was boarded but released. It came two weeks after British Marines helped to arrest off Gibraltar an Iranian ship suspected of breaking EU sanctions by taking oil to Syria. A US warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump said. BA suspended flights from London to Cairo for a week.

Riot police fired rubber bullets at groups of protesters in Hong Kong after another pro-democracy demonstration; demonstrators were attacked at a railway station by men in white T-shirts wielding staves. Li Peng, the former premier of China, known as the Butcher of Beijing for ordering attacks in which hundreds of unarmed civilians were killed at Tiananmen Square in 1989, died aged 90. An Australian swimmer, Mack Horton, refused to share a podium with a Chinese gold medallist, Sun Yang, at the World Aquatics championships in South Korea; Britain’s Duncan Scott did the same after another race won by Sun, who served a three-month ban in 2014 after testing positive for a banned stimulant. South Korea said its jets had fired warning shots at a Russian surveillance plane that entered its airspace.

India launched a spacecraft intended to make a soft landing on the moon. César Pelli, the Argentine-American architect of the Canary Wharf tower in London, died aged 92. Wild fires forced people to leave their houses in Portugal as high temperatures affected western Europe, with Bordeaux registering a record 41.2C (106.1F).                                    CSH

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