Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

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Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain's ambassador to the EU, resigned; he had been expected to play an important part in talks on Brexit. In a lengthy email to staff he said: 'Free trade does not just happen when it is not thwarted by authorities.' He referred to 'ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking' and noted that we do not know the 'negotiating objectives for the UK's relationship with the EU'. Southern railways advised hundreds of thousands of commuters not to try to travel during a three-day strike by train drivers, due to begin on Monday. China began a direct freight rail service to Barking in London. Len McCluskey, the head of the Unite union, said that if in 2019 opinion polls were 'still awful', Jeremy Corbyn would consider his position as leader of the Labour party, with the help of John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, because: 'These two are not egomaniacs, they are not desperate to cling on to power for power's sake.' The faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons inveighed against 'office cake culture'.

The government announced the sites of 14 'garden villages', between them planned to provide 48,000 houses. They included 2,200 houses and a science park on a greenfield site in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds; 1,500 houses at Long Marston, Warwickshire, and up to 3,700 house at Spitalgate Heath near Grantham, Lincolnshire. Police shot dead a man called Yassar Yaqub on a slip-road of the M62 in an incident unrelated to terrorism. Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, said that voting with pencil and paper was 'much more secure' than electronic voting. John Berger, the Marxist art critic, died aged 90.

Among the 1,197 honoured at the New Year were six new Companions of Honour: Sir Roger Bannister, Sir Richard Eyre, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, Lady Warnock and Lady Williams of Crosby. Knights included Antony Beevor, the historian, Ray Davies of The Kinks, Ken Dodd, the comedian, Mark Rylance, the actor, Mo Farah, the runner and Andy Murray, the tennis player. The Rt Revd James Jones, the retired Bishop of Liverpool, was appointed KBE. Katherine Grainger, the Olympic rower, and Jessica Ennis-Hill, the Olympic athlete, were made dames, as was Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, for her work on the appeal that erected a statue of Mary Seacole, who ran a hotel in the Crimea. …

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