Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Hancock out, Javid in and MoD papers found at a bus stop

3 July 2021

9:00 AM

3 July 2021

9:00 AM

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A lively game of hunt the issue followed the resignation of Matt Hancock as Secretary of State for Health after the Sunpublished a photograph of him kissing an aide, Gina Coladangelo, in May, in contravention of the law at the time on meeting indoors. The Prime Minister had tried to declare the matter ‘closed’ when Mr Hancock apologised, but some Tory MPs and many citizens were scandalised that the man in whose name coronavirus restrictions were made law (as statutory instruments) should exempt himself from their strictures. Mr and Mrs Hancock parted company. Questions were raised over how the security camera images reached the Sun, and how Ms Coladangelo had come to be appointed a non-executive director of the Department of Health. Sajid Javid, who had resigned in March 2020 after 204 days as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a power tussle with Dominic Cummings, was appointed health secretary. In a statement to the Commons he said of coronavirus restrictions: ‘We see no reason to go beyond July 19, because, in truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for Covid.’ England beat Germany 2-0 at Wembley in Euro 2020, going through to play Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

In the seven days up to the beginning of the week, 119 people had died with coronavirus, bringing total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 128,089. More than 375,000 pupils were away from school, one in 20, because of a policy of sending home any in a ‘bubble’ in which another child had tested positive for coronavirus. By the beginning of the week, 61.6 per cent of the adult population had received two doses of vaccine; 84.1 per cent a first dose. Scotland lifted travel restrictions to and from Manchester, Bolton and Salford. ‘You can taste the girders in it,’ the Duke of Cambridge said when he accompanied the Queen on a visit to the Irn Bru factory at Cumbernauld, Lanarkshire.


A soggy sheaf of about 50 pages of Ministry of Defence documents, one marked ‘Secret UK eyes only’, was found behind a bus stop in Kent; one discussed the likely Russian reaction to the passage of HMS Defenderthrough Ukrainian waters off the Crimean coast. The finder took them to the BBC. Binance, which provides services for people using cryptocurrencies, was banned by the Financial Conduct Authority from any regulated activities in Britain. At the Elephant and Castle in south London, a fire destroyed three commercial units under railway arches, four cars and a telephone kiosk.

Abroad

The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 3,933,156 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 57,499 from the week before. In Australia, where 29 per cent of the population had received a first dose of vaccine, lockdown was imposed on Sydney, Darwin, Perth and Brisbane after a surge in cases of the Delta variant. Ireland delayed next week’s reopening of indoor hospitality venues and planned to limit them to those who were fully vaccinated or had recovered from Covid-19.

Banks in Lebanon closed for a day in response to the injury of three employees when 100 men stormed the Lebanese Swiss Bank in Beirut, trying to gain access to closed accounts. United Airlines placed an order for 270 Boeing and Airbus planes costing more than $30 billion. More than 150 people were missing after a 12-storey block of flats collapsed at Surfside, near Miami, Florida. A heatwave hit the north-west United States and western Canada, with Portland, Oregon, seeing temperatures above 46˚C and Lytton in British Columbia 49.5˚C. Two more Catholic churches in indigenous communities in British Columbia were destroyed by fires started within an hour of each other. In Barranquilla, Colombia, a crowd pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus, after whom the country is named. Vice-President Kamala Harris of the United States visited the border with Mexico, where more migrants have already been detained this year than in 2020. Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalised the private recreational use of cannabis.

Rebels in Ethiopia’s Tigray region retook its capital, Mekelle, which had been in government hands since November. South Africa’s Constitutional Court sentenced former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail for contempt in refusing to appear to answer corruption charges. Scientists reported they had detected two collisions between a neutron star and a black hole in ten days. CSH

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