Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Bercow steps down, Hoyle steps up and an election begins

9 November 2019

9:00 AM

9 November 2019

9:00 AM


Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Labour MP for Chorley and deputy Speaker since 2010, was elected Speaker by the Commons. His first words were: ‘No clapping.’ Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit party, proposed an electoral pact with the Conservatives, but only if Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, repudiated the agreement on Brexit that he had made with the European Union. When this was not forthcoming, he said: ‘We will contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales.’ But he declined to stand for parliament himself (which he had done seven times before, without success). Philip Hammond, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, decided against standing as an independent in the election after all. Postmen rubbed their hands at the prospect of disrupting postal votes during the election by going on strike. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will strike for 27 days between 2 December and New Year’s Day on South Western Railway.

Boris Johnson published a letter addressed to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, asking what kind of deal with the EU he intended to negotiate. In a speech, Mr Corbyn said he would secure a ‘sensible’ deal with the EU and hold another referendum, with the choice of remaining in the EU or leaving with the deal negotiated. He would not say which he would favour. Jo Swinson, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said in answer to a question: ‘I am absolutely, categorically ruling out Lib Dem votes putting Jeremy Corbyn in No. 10.’ The government denied claims it was suppressing a report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee on alleged Russian interference in British democracy. A European arrest warrant was issued by Spain against Professor Clara Ponsati of St Andrews University over her role in the campaign for independence in Catalonia in 2017.

A government scheme announced by David Cameron in 2014 to build 200,000 houses for first-time buyers aged under 40 had resulted in none being built, because the necessary legislation had not been passed, the National Audit Office reported. The government put a moratorium on fracking ‘until compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity’ in the words of Andrea Leadsom, the Energy Secretary. The government had taken the opportunity of acting on a report by the Oil and Gas Authority that said the probability or size of tremors could not be predicted. Mothercare called in administrators after failing to find buyers for its 79 shops. Marks & Spencer saw pre-tax profits fall by 17 per cent. England were beaten 12-32 by South Africa in the final of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.


Saudi Arabia set about launching an initial public offering of the state-owned oil company on the Riyadh stock exchange, with shares in 1 or 2 per cent of the enterprise to be put on sale. The value of Saudi Aramco, the world’s most profitable company, has been put at £927 billion. Iran said it would begin injecting gas into centrifuges (to separate out the most fissile isotope, Uranium-235) in contravention of an international agreement over nuclear development signed in 2015. At least three people were shot dead when protesters attacked the Iranian consulate in Karbala. Nigerian police freed 259 people, most in chains, from a mosque compound in Ibadan to which many had been sent for Quranic rehabilitation.Officials asked people to stay indoors as Delhi was covered with smog.

Xi Jinping, the ruler of China, met Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, and said his government has a ‘high degree of confidence’ in her; violent clashes with police continued. Protesters in Lebanon blocked roads again despite the resignation of Saad Hariri as prime minister a week earlier. President Sebastián Piñera of Chile said he would not resign despite demonstrations. Microsoft Japan said sales had risen by nearly 40 per cent during an experiment in August in which staff worked a four-day week on full pay.

Democrats took full control of the legislature in Virginia for the first time since 1993 in state elections. Venezuela and El Salvador expelled each other’s diplomats. Thousands in Canada are drinking water with high levels of lead in it, according to an investigation by 120 journalists. South African sellers of rooibos tea agreed to pay 1.5 per cent of income to members of the San people, previously known as Bushmen. CSH

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