Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

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Credit: The Spectator

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said on television that he was 'bullish' about negotiating change for Britain in the European Union, but that there would be a referendum on membership by the end of 2017 'whether or not I have successfully negotiated'. In a telephone poll by Lord Ashcroft the Conservatives were found to be ahead for the first time since 2012, on 34 per cent, with Labour at 32, Ukip 15 and the Liberal Democrats 9. An ICM poll said much the same. In the first quarter since visa restrictions were lifted, 140,000 Romanians and Bulgarians were employed in Britain, not counting dependants. Unemployment fell by 133,000 to a five-year low of 2.2 million. The FTSE rose to its highest since 1999, at 6,873.08. A good old row was reported between Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister. The United Kingdom was placed second to Finland in European education rankings by Pearson, the publishers.

Mr Cameron disagreed with Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, who had suggested that Gary Barlow, the singer, who had put money into a scheme ruled to have been set up for tax avoidance purposes, might 'show a bit of contrition by giving back his OBE'. The government decided to prorogue Parliament since it did not want MPs to pass any more laws. Professor Colin Pillinger, whose Beagle 2 mission to explore Mars proved an heroic failure, died, aged 70. The official campaign for Scottish independence was found to have been almost entirely financed, perfectly properly, by Chris and Colin Weir, who won £161 million on the lottery in 2011.

Jewish and Muslim spokesmen called for meat to be clearly labelled with the method of its slaughter, after people had complained that chicken at popular food joints was halal. Photographs appeared of two RAF servicemen giving a thumbs-up next to the corpse of a Taleban fighter after an attack on Camp Bastion in 2012. Michael Wheatley, nicknamed the Skullcracker, was back in prison after four days on the run had ended when the Chelsea Building Society in Sunbury-on-Thames reported an armed raid. David Lowe, a radio presenter for 30 years, was sacked after playing on Radio Devon a recording of 'The Sun Has Got His Hat On' from 1932, which he did not realise contained the lines, 'He's been tannin' niggers out in Timbuktu/ Now he's coming back to do the same to you. …

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