Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Article excerpt

Home

Sergei Skripal, aged 66, and his daughter Yulia were found in a state of collapse on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury. Mr Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed by Russia in 2006 on charges of giving secrets to MI6; he was deported in a swap of spies in 2010. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said that the incident had 'echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko'. Public Health England threatened food manufacturers and supermarkets with new laws unless they reduced the calories in portions of crisps, pizzas and pies.

In a speech on Brexit at Mansion House (intended, before the snow came, to have been made in Newcastle), Theresa May, the Prime Minister, sought to conciliate members of the government by speaking of compromise and to cheer up European Union negotiators by acknowledging such things as a role for the European Court of Justice in regulating bodies like the European Medicines Agency (which has already decided to move from London to Amsterdam). She repeated that Britain was leaving the single market and the customs union, but said: 'We may choose to commit some areas of our regulations like state aid and competition to remaining in step with the EU's.' On Northern Ireland, she said there would be no hard border with the Republic, and no customs border with the rest of the United Kingdom. She proposed five tests for an agreement with the EU, though it was unclear how they could be applied; one of them was 'bringing our country together'.

In response to the speech, Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Brexiteer, said; 'Now is not the time to nitpick.' Sarah Wollaston, an MP leaning towards the Remain position, said that a rebel amendment to the Trade Bill, on a customs union, would 'probably be kicked down the road'. EU responses were cool. Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit spokesman of the European Parliament, called the speech vague 'aspirations', and came to London for talks with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, before a vote by the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week. Five days after the speech, when Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was due to give his view of Brexit, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, presented draft guidelines on what the EU would like to see in a trade agreement with Britain after Brexit. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.