The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Anderson’s outburst and Biden’s ceasefire prediction


Lee Anderson, a former Conservative party deputy chairman, had the whip withdrawn after responding to an article by Suella Braverman that said: ‘The Islamists, the extremists and the anti-Semites are in charge now.’ He said: ‘I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of [Sadiq] Khan and they’ve got control of London, and they’ve got control of [Keir] Starmer as well.’ He later added: ‘They are laughing at our police. This stems with Khan, he’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.’ Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said the comments were ‘not acceptable. They were wrong’. Khan, the Mayor of London, accused the Conservatives of ‘a strategy to weaponise anti-Muslim prejudice’.

The row followed remarks by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, during a debate on a Scottish National party motion about a ceasefire in Gaza, after he allowed a Labour amendment to be considered first, in defiance of precedent. When the amendment was passed (after the government abstained), the SNP was left with no vote on its motion. The party withdrew support from the Speaker and more than 80 MPs signed a motion of no confidence in him. The Speaker, who apologised emotionally, had earlier seen Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, privately. The next day the Speaker said: ‘I never ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find another friend, whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists. I also don’t want an attack on this House.’ The Prime Minister commented: ‘We should never let extremists intimidate us into changing the way in which parliament works.’ The classification of the film Mary Poppins was changed from U to PG because the eccentric character Admiral Boom twice uses the word Hottentot.

The Court of Appeal ruled that removing Shamima Begum’s British citizenship was not unlawful. A self-declared transgender woman, Scarlet Blake, 26, who had made a video of the killing of a cat that was deemed too terrible to be shown to jurors, was jailed for at least 24 years for murdering a car worker, and four months for the cat. The criminal was sent to a men’s prison. Henry Staunton, the former Post Office chairman, told a Commons committee that the chief executive, Nick Read, was under investigation after he ‘fell out’ with the head of HR, and had four times tried to resign; Mr Read had told MPs that he had not tried to resign. Jacob Rothschild, the 4th Baron Rothschild, the financier and patron of the arts, died aged 87. Thomas Kingston, the son-in-law of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, was found dead, aged 45. The Prince of Wales missed a memorial service for his godfather, King Constantine of the Hellenes, for ‘personal’ reasons, but the Queen went.


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in two years. He said he thought 180,000 Russian soldiers had been killed; the BBC has established the names of 45,000 Russians who died. North Korea has shipped 6,700 containers of munitions to Russia since July to support its war against Ukraine, according to South Korea. In a long-delayed decision, Hungary’s MPs voted by 188 to six in favour of admitting Sweden to Nato. At least 15 people were killed during Mass in a church in Burkina Faso, while on the same day dozens were killed at a mosque, both attacks being blamed on Islamist fighters.

President Joe Biden, holding an ice-cream cone that he was about to lick, said of the war in Gaza: ‘My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.’ Hamas was not so sure. American and British fighters carried out their fourth joint air strike on Houthi sites in Yemen. Former president Donald Trump won his fourth successive victory in the primaries, beating Nikki Haley in her home state of South Carolina. Alabama’s Supreme Court ruled that an existing law on the wrongful death of a minor covers not only foetuses, but also embryos in a lab or in storage.

The number of babies born in Japan fell to a new low last year, for the eighth year running, suggesting a 30 per cent fall in population to 87 million by 2070, with 40 per cent of the population aged 65 or more. Japan’s moon lander, which had nose-dived, was found to have survived the two-week lunar night at minus 130˚C and sent back pictures of a stony slope. A privately funded spacecraft, called Odysseus and launched in America, landed near the moon’s south pole and fell onto its side. CSH