Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

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England suddenly began to take the prospect of Scottish independence seriously after a poll of 1,084 people by YouGov put support for it at 51 per cent and opposition at 49 per cent. A survey by TNS showed 38 per cent of Scots backed independence compared to 39 per cent opposing it (with 23 per cent not knowing). The pound fell to its lowest for ten months against the dollar. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in concert with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, promised a timetable for further devolution if voters in Scotland would only reject independence. The Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition agreed to cancel Prime Minister's Questions and fly to Scotland, in the apparent belief that it would help. Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, went too. Buckingham Palace said: 'Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong.' Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, in answer to a question, said that 'a currency union is incompatible with sovereignty'. Those inside No. 10 Downing Street thought it would be good to hoist St Andrew's saltire on its flagpole; at the first attempt it fell down.

MPs should receive a 9 per cent pay rise, taking their basic salary to £74,000, according to Marcial Boo, the chief executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. George Osborne ruled that rail fares should rise by only 2.5 per cent, instead of the 3.5 per cent planned. A report commissioned by the Post Office found that some sub-postmasters had been accused of theft because of badly functioning computer systems; one lost her life savings repaying an incorrect shortfall. Middlesbrough is to build a short swing bridge to the entrance to Middlehaven Dock for £4.5 million. Archaeologists scanning 3,000 acres around Stonehenge traced remains of 17 other monuments.

Ashya King, a boy aged five suffering from brain cancer, whose parents were held in jail for two nights in Madrid after they took him from a hospital in Southampton, was allowed to be taken for treatment in Prague. The London Fire Brigade said it had been called to rescue people trapped in a lift at Earlsdown House, Barking, 22 times. The Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a second child. …

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