Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Theresa May’s new role, England’s cricket victory and the world’s steepest street

20 July 2019

9:00 AM

20 July 2019

9:00 AM


In a televised debate between the rivals for election by members of the Conservative party as their new leader (and hence prime minister), Boris Johnson said of the Irish backstop, ‘It needs to come out,’ and Jeremy Hunt said that it was ‘dead’. This was described as ‘significant’ by Dominic Grieve, who said he was ready to bring the government down rather than see a Brexit without any agreement. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said that she would continue to sit as an MP after her resignation on 24 July. Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech was recognised as the steepest street in the world, at 37.45 per cent beating Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, at only 35 per cent.

There were attempts to weaponise the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch as the British Ambassador in Washington after some of his diplomatic telegrams in email form had been leaked. Sir Kim said: ‘I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during this difficult few days.’ These did not include Mr Johnson. Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu then said the Met Police had ‘been told the publication of these specific documents, now knowing they may be a breach of the Official Secrets Act, could also constitute a criminal offence and one that carries no public interest defence’. But Mr Hunt said: ‘I defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks.’ Sure enough, the Mail on Sunday published more leaks in which Sir Kim suggested the Trump White House was ‘set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism’ in abandoning the Iran nuclear deal.

England won the Cricket World Cup (of the One Day International game) in an extraordinarily tense and close match against New Zealand, watched by a peak of 7.9 million viewers on Sky and free to air television for the occasion. Both teams scored 241 and the result was finally decided by the number of boundaries in the match hit by England. The Wimbledon men’s tennis final lasted a record four hours 57 minutes, with Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in a tie-breaker, 13-12 in the fifth set. The previous day, Simona Halep became the first Romanian to win the championship when she beat the USA’s Serena Williams 6-2 6-2. The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland rose to 1,187 last year, 27 per cent higher than the year before; this death rate was higher than that reported in any other EU country. Sitxy-seven Labour peers put their name to an advertisement in the Guardian accusing Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, of ‘allowing anti-Semitism to grow in our party’. Extinction Rebellion protesters blocked roads with boats on trailers in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Glasgow and Leeds. Alan Turing is to feature on the new plastic £50 note to be issued in 2021.


A majority of the House of Representatives (including four Republicans) denounced President Donald Trump for ‘racist comments that have legitimised fear and hatred of New Americans and people of colour’. This followed his tweet about four Democrat Congresswomen (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, born in the Bronx, Rashida Tlaib, born in Detroit, Ayanna Pressley, born in Chicago, and Ilhan Omar, born in Mogadishu and a refuge to the United States at the age of 12): ‘Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?’ Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary said he was ‘uncomfortable’ with Libra, the crypto-currency proposed by Facebook.

Ursula von der Leyen, the German defence minister, secured the approval of the European Parliament for her appointment as president of the European Commission. On Brexit she said: ‘I stand ready for further extension of the withdrawal date should more time be required for a good reason.’ As European Union foreign ministers met to discuss Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, said the EU might not wake up to the threat of Iran ‘until Iranian nuclear missiles fall on European soil’. Archaeologists investigated a 9,000-
year-old neolithic town of perhaps 3,000 people, three miles west of Jerusalem.

Measured by official figures, the economy of China grew at its slowest since the early 1990s, at an annual rate of 6.2 per cent, in the second quarter of the year. Hong Kong police clashed with demonstrators in a shopping mall during continuing protests against proposals for extradition to China. Ten Turkish seamen were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria. Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, asked his son to become ambassador to the United States. CSH

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