Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt


The Supreme Court ruled by eight to three that, without an act of Parliament, the government could not effectually invoke Article 50 to start Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. It argued: 'If, as we consider, what would otherwise be a prerogative act would result in a change in domestic law, the act can only lawfully be carried out with the sanction of primary legislation enacted by the Queen in Parliament.' The court said that devolved assemblies did not have to assent to the move. In general, it said, 'The effect of any particular referendum must depend on the terms of the statute which authorises it.' The government announced a bill to invoke the article. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, said: 'If necessary, there will be hand-to-hand combat on this.' Londoners were warned that 'very high' levels of air pollution had been reached in a spell of still, sunny days.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, flew off to meet President Donald Trump, going home via Turkey. She had earlier refused to say during a television interview whether she had been told, before a Commons vote on the renewal of Trident, about a test off Florida in which, according to the Sunday Times, a missile with no nuclear warhead went off course. Lord Hennessy, the historian, said in the House of Lords that he had witnessed the test. The government said it was considering making sex education compulsory in schools. A member of the House of Keys was granted leave to introduce a bill legalising abortion in the Isle of Man. The Food Standards Agency warned of a risk of cancer from eating toast, crisps or roast potatoes.

Michelle O'Neill, aged 40, succeeded Martin McGuinness as the leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. Robert Hannigan, the director of GCHQ since 2014, is to stand down for family reasons. BT shares fell by 21 per cent after it was found that a scandal in the company's Italian operations would set it back £530 million. Bernie Ecclestone, aged 86, said he had been forced out of his position running Formula 1 by Liberty Media, which paid £6.4 billion for the operation. Erwin and Krystian Markowski, from Nottingham, were jailed for six years for trafficking 18 people from Poland, sending them to work at Sports Direct and keeping most of their wages.


President Donald Trump, by executive order, withdrew America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that had been signed by 12 countries but never ratified by the US Congress. …

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