Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Fishing friction, Greta’s singalong and terror in Tokyo

6 November 2021

9:00 AM

6 November 2021

9:00 AM


Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, told delegates to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow: ‘It’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now.’ He left the conference the next day. British companies would have to publish plans on reaching net zero by 2050. India said it would reach net zero by 2070. Greta Thunberg, aged 18, stood in Govan Festival Park leading a chorus of ‘You can shove your climate crisis up your arse’ to the tune of ‘Ye cannae shove yer grannie aff a bus’. ‘None of us will live for ever,’ the Queen said in a video message: ‘The leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them.’ She had been advised to rest from all but light duties for a fortnight; she would not attend the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on 13 November, but it was her ‘firm intention’ to be at the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph the following day.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, repeatedly said that she would not roll over. She was referring to a row with France over fishing rights, after a scallop boat was impounded at Le Havre. George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said it had been released; but it hadn’t. Jean Castex, the French Prime Minister, said in a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, that the EU must demonstrate in this dispute that there was ‘more damage to leaving the EU than in remaining there’. Widening the points of disagreement to the Northern Ireland Protocol, Maros Sefcovic, a European Commission vice-president, said he was ‘increasingly concerned’ that the UK government would ‘embark on a path of confrontation’. Two trains crashed in the Fisherton Tunnel near Salisbury, seriously injuring a driver and leaving 13 with minor injuries. The Isle of Wight’s Island Line reopened after ten months.

In the seven days up to the beginning of this week, 1,097 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the total of deaths (within 28 days of testing positive) to 140,558. (In the previous week deaths had numbered 934.) Numbers remaining in hospital rose in a week from about 8,300 to nearly 9,000. The Commons transport select committee said that the introduction of smart motorways should be halted. Jes Staley resigned as chief executive of Barclays after his relationship with the late Jeffrey Epstein was questioned. Kathleen Stock resigned as a professor of philosophy at Sussex University, where she had faced a campaign to have her sacked for believing in the significance of biological sex.


The total in the world reported to have died with coronavirus reached 5,010,198 by the beginning of the week. The Chinese government urged families to stock up on essential supplies; no reason was given beyond the need to be prepared if a lockdown was announced. At Onda in the Valencia region, where Covid restrictions had been lifted on a bull-running event, a man was gored to death. The former Fifa officials Sepp Blatter, 85, and Michel Platini, 66, were charged in Switzerland with fraud, which they denied.

President Emmanuel Macron said he knew that Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, had lied to him about the Aukus submarine deal; Mr Morrison then released a text message from Mr Macron suggesting that it was he who had lied. President Joe Biden of the United States returned home to find that the Republican candidate, Glenn Youngkin, had been elected as the governor of Virginia. After Facebook announced that it was changing its name to Meta, Hebrew-speakers pointed out that the word meant ‘dead’. A high-rise building under construction in Lagos collapsed, and dozens were missing in the ruin. After six weeks, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma continued to spew lava and spoilt banana plantations with ash.

Officials in Addis Ababa called on residents to prepare to protect their neighbourhoods after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front claimed it had captured two cities 250 miles away. More than 20 were killed in a gun and bomb assault on a military hospital in Kabul; the Taliban government blamed Islamic State affiliate IS-K. A 24-year-old man wearing a Joker costume wounded 17 on a Tokyo train and set fire to the carriage.

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