Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, decided to allow ministers to campaign for either side in the referendum on membership of the European Union, once his negotiations had been concluded on Britain's relationship with the EU. The government said it was commissioning 13,000 houses to be built by small builders on public land made available with planning permission. Junior doctors decided to go on strike after all, starting with a day next week, after talks between the government and the British Medical Association broke down. In an extraordinarily drawn-out reshuffle, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, replaced Michael Dugher as shadow culture secretary with Maria Eagle, who was replaced at defence by the Trident-hating Emily Thornberry. Pat McFadden was sacked as Europe spokesman. Hilary Benn was left as shadow foreign secretary in an uneasy truce.

It was the turn of north-east Scotland to suffer floods. Abergeldie Castle was left teetering on the edge of the undermined bank of the river Dee. December turned out to be the warmest and wettest for the United Kingdom since suitable records began in 1910. Regulated rail fares rose by 1 per cent, bringing the cost of an annual season ticket from Cheltenham to London to £9,800. BBC websites were brought down by a distributed denial of service attack that was claimed by a group called New World Hacking, which says it opposes Islamic State. HSBC's online banking failed two days running. Sainsbury's said it had made a £1 billion bid that was rejected for the Home Retail group, which owns Argos and Homebase. Thousands of bottles of detergent were washed up on Cornish beaches.

Police arrested two men after a shooting in a car park at a McDonald's in Hull smashed a car's windows. A man was charged with murder after a fatal stabbing in Holloway, London. Two teenagers in Streatham, London, were injured when pillion riders on four mopeds stabbed them. A father and son were wounded when two men stabbed them many times at Manor House, London. A man in Preston was killed by his dog. Hundreds of people in Penge, London, were evacuated when a gas main broke. In the second Test with South Africa in Cape Town, Ben Stokes scored 200 off 163 balls, an England Test record.

Abroad

Saudi Arabia beheaded 47 people on the same day, including the man who had shot dead Simon Cumbers, a BBC cameraman, and wounded Frank Gardner, the BBC correspondent, in 2004. …

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