Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: All-women cabinets, employment growth and more Hong Kong protests

17 August 2019

9:00 AM

17 August 2019

9:00 AM


Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, proposed an extra 10,000 prison places and the expansion of stop-and-search powers. PC Stuart Outten, 28, was cut in the head with a machete after he stopped a van in Leyton, east London, in the early hours; Muhammed Rodwan, 56, of Luton, was charged with attempted murder. While trying to make an arrest, PC Gareth Phillips, 42, was run over in Moseley, Birmingham, by someone driving his own car; Mubashar Hussain, 29, was charged with attempted murder. The RAF is to allow recruits to wear beards.

John Bercow, the Speaker, said that he thought parliament could stop Britain leaving the EU without an agreement. Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, said that he was confident that parliament had the means it needed, because a no-deal Brexit would be ‘just as much a betrayal of the referendum result as not leaving at all’. Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, suggested an ‘emergency cabinet’ of ten women could meet to try to stop a no-deal Brexit: ‘Women tend to be less tribal,’ she said. Jean-Marc Puissesseau, the president of Port Boulogne Calais, dismissed warnings of chaos in trade between Dover and Calais, saying: ‘Basically, c’est la bullshit.’ After meeting Boris Johnson at No. 10, John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, said that Britain would be ‘first in line’ for a trade deal with America. Nearly a million people were affected by a power cut in the Midlands, the South East, South West and North East of England and Wales after a failure of supply from the gas-fired station at Little Barford in Bedfordshire and from Hornsea offshore wind farm. Passengers were trapped with no ventilation in trains that drivers had no way of restarting when the current was restored. Rail fares will rise by 2.8 per cent in January. Cauliflowers were in short supply because of the weather.

Annual wage growth rose to 3.9 per cent in the year to June, its highest in 11 years. With 32.81 million people in work, the employment rate of 76.1 per cent had never been higher. The search was called off for a migrant thought to have fallen from a small boat as she tried to cross the Channel, while another 19 people from Iraq and Iran were rescued; the day before 30 migrants had been rescued from four small boats, including a kayak. A television advert for Philadelphia cheese was banned for containing ‘harmful gender stereotypes’.


Thousands of demonstrators occupied Hong Kong airport in the 10th week of protests in favour of democracy and against Chinese intervention; check-ins were suspended on successive days. Police shot at demonstrators at close range with non-lethal ammunition and tear gas at underground stations. China’s aviation authority ordered Cathay Pacific to take crew off flights into mainland China if they had participated in the protests. In Moscow 50,000 people gathered in the rain to demand fair elections, the biggest demonstration since 2011.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the nationalist Lega party, said he wanted to break up its coalition with the Five Star movement and hold an election. The Argentine peso plunged and shares slumped after the conservative President Mauricio Macri suffered a surprise defeat in primary elections and the left-wing candidate Alberto Fernández (whose running mate is the state-interventionist former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner) became the favourite for presidential elections to be held in October. Alejandro Giammattei, of the conservative Vamos party, was elected president of Guatemala. The financier Jeffrey Epstein, aged 66, was found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York, where he was being held on charges of paying girls under the age of 18 for sex. Seamus Blackley, an amateur Egyptologist, extracted yeast from 5,000-year-old Egyptian ceramics in two museums in Boston, Massachusetts and used the revived culture to bake leavened bread.

India deployed troops in the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, the special status of which it had revoked; hundreds were detained. The Yemeni separatist Southern Transitional Council took control of Aden; the group, backed by the United Arab Emirates, had been on the same side as the government of Yemen, backed by Saudi Arabia, in the civil war against the rebel Houthis, backed by Iran. Berlin Zoo took away an egg from its only female king penguin, which was not looking after it, and gave it to a homosexual pair of penguins, Skipper and Ping. CSH

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