Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Boris on the brink, petrol price protests and a £3,000 swear word

9 July 2022

9:00 AM

9 July 2022

9:00 AM


Rishi Sunak resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sajid Javid as Health Secretary. (Nadhim Zahawi accepted the post of Chancellor and Steve Barclay, the PM’s chief of staff, Health Secretary.) The resignations came five days after Chris Pincher, aged 52, the MP for Tamworth, resigned as deputy chief whip the morning after he ‘drank far too much’ at the Carlton Club where he was alleged to have groped two men. Then began questions of what Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, knew and when. Mr Pincher had the whip removed as a member of the parliamentary Conservative party, and said: ‘I will benefit from professional medical support.’ He had previously stood down from the whips’ office in 2017, after being accused of making an unwanted pass at the former Olympic rower and Conservative activist Alex Story, but he was cleared of any breach of the Tory party’s code of conduct. No. 10 now admitted that Mr Johnson had been aware of ‘reports and speculation’ about the alleged sexual misconduct of Mr Pincher, before his new appointment in February. The official spokesman would not comment on whether Mr Johnson had said: ‘Pincher by name, pincher by nature.’ On Tuesday Lord McDonald of Salford, the permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office when Mr Pincher was a minister there in 2019, said that Mr Johnson had in fact been briefed in person about a complaint then. Before the day was out, Mr Johnson said he was ‘aware back in 2019, of a specific allegation’ and ‘I bitterly regret the decision not to … intervene’. On BBC Radio 4, Diane Abbott, the Labour MP, said, without giving any evidence: ‘Boris has been rumoured to be the one who likes assaulting women.’

Events overshadowed a declaration by Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party, that he would not seek to rejoin the EU or the single market or re-establish freedom of movement. Demonstrators drove slowly on motorways, causing traffic jams, in protest over high petrol prices. One organiser of the protest was Pickle Doherty, 36, who has ‘N% F*K$ G!V€N’ tattooed on his forehead. The proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus rose to one in 30 in England and one in 18 in Scotland (from one in 40 and one in 20 a week earlier), according to surveys by the Office for National Statistics. British Airways cancelled hundreds of flights for July. Six people in east London were among 130 arrested in Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and Holland in connection with people-smuggling. In June 3,136 migrants were recorded crossing the Channel on 76 boats, bringing the year’s total to 12,690.

New public buildings will be obliged to have separate lavatories for men and women. Nick Kyrgios was fined £3,300 for an audible obscenity and Stefanos Tsitsipas £8,250 for unsportsmanlike conduct during the match at Wimbledon that Kyrgios won. Peter Brook, the theatre director, died aged 97. Cinemas banned young people wearing suits from watching Minions: The Rise of Gru after large groups cheered during screenings.


Ukrainian forces withdrew from the city of Lysychansk, giving Russia control of the Luhansk half of the Donbas region. Russian shelling set fire to the central market in the city of Slovyansk. Confirmed deaths in Ukraine numbered more than 10,000 in the records of the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project – a US-based non-profit group. In April, Russia said it had killed about 23,000 Ukrainian troops and the UK government said about 15,000 Russian soldiers had died; Ukraine said 35,000 Russians had died by late June.

A 22-year-old man was charged with shooting dead two Danish teenagers, both 17, and a Russian citizen aged 47 at a Copenhagen shopping centre. A 21-year-old man was charged with murder after seven people were shot dead at a 4 July parade in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb; he was said by police to have been disguised in women’s clothes. A man who appeared in 1981, four years after the disappearance of a teenager from Bihar in India, spent the next 41 as an impostor, a court found, sentencing him to seven years in jail.

Canadian officials were barred from the trial of Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua by Chinese authorities on unknown charges five years after his disappearance from Hong Kong. Sydney suffered floods after 31 inches of rain in four days. Two were killed by sharks in the Red Sea off Egypt. Spanish police seized three underwater drones each built to smuggle 200kg of drugs from Morocco. CSH

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