Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

Home Floods grew worse in the West Country.

The village of Moorland, Somerset, was abandoned. Then the Thames flooded, from above Oxford to Teddington. Eventually, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, declared from Downing Street: 'Money is no object in this relief effort.' Some 1,600 troops were deployed. By midweek 1,000 houses had been evacuated. A storm had broken the rail line from Cornwall at Dawlish, which would take months to mend, as would the broken line from Barmouth to Criccieth.

Landslides closed lines between Tonbridge and Hastings, between Machynlleth and Welshpool, and from Portsmouth via Eastleigh. Villagers at Wraysbury, Berkshire, complained of looting of abandoned houses.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said: 'We are prepared to say we got it wrong, along with the Environment Agency, on dredging.' Lord Smith of Finsbury, the chairman of the Environment Agency, said that his staff 'know a hundred times more about flood risk management than any politician'. Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, recovering from an eye operation, complained to David Cameron 'in the strongest possible terms' about Mr Pickles's 'grandstanding'.

Mark Harper resigned as immigration minister after he discovered his cleaner did not have permission to work in Britain; he was replaced by James Brokenshire.

Under plans drawn up by Mr Brokenshire, the government attempted to block online extremist videos, even on foreign sites, that might radicalise young men. William Roache, aged 81, who has appeared in Coronation Street since it began in 1960, was found not guilty of rape and indecent assault after a trial at Preston Crown Court.

Denis MacShane, the former Labour MP, was released after serving six weeks of a six month sentence for expenses fraud.

Britain decided to order 14 F-35B fighters for [pounds]2.5 billion. MPs voted by a majority of 269 in favour of an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to ban smoking in cars when children are passengers. The TSSA and RMT unions agreed to suspend another 48-hour strike on the London Underground. David Cameron, in a speech at the Olympic stadium in London, called on people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to 'get on the phone, get together, email, tweet, speak' to friends, neighbours and family in Scotland to vote against independence. …

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