The Spectator

Portrait of the Week: Farage returns, Abbott reselected and Trump guilty 

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Nigel Farage took over leadership of the Reform party from Richard Tice and is standing for parliament in Clacton. This came as news on Monday to Tice, and to Reform’s candidate for Clacton, Tony Mack. Outside the Wetherspoons pub where he launched his campaign, Farage had a McDonald’s banana milkshake thrown over him. Farage proposed net-zero immigration. The Conservatives then said they would ask the independent Migration Advisory Committee for a recommended level for an annual cap on visas, and put that to a parliamentary vote. Invasive Asian hornets, which can eat 50 bees a day, were found to have survived a British winter and might stay permanently.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, in a debate on television with the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said every family would face tax rises of £2,000 under Labour. The Treasury said that civil servants had not provided all the figures for this claim. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, said: ‘This is a desperate lie.’ After alarums and excursions, Diane Abbott was reselected by the Labour party’s executive to fight her seat of Hackney North and Stoke Newington. The polling company YouGov’s first Multi-level Regression and Poststratification constituency projection, before Farage’s announcement, showed Labour could win a 194-seat majority, bigger even than the majority of 179 in 1997. It put Labour on 422 seats (up 220 from the 2019 election), the Tories on 140 (down 225), the Lib Dems on 48 (up 47) and the SNP on 17 (down 31). Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, freewheeled downhill on a bicycle in Wales. A new star, T Coronae Borealis, is expected to become brighter than the North Star this summer. A record number of people were found to be suffering from gonorrhoea last year – 85,223 compared with 79,268 in 2022. In Bury, Lancashire, a bronze statue of the comedian Victoria Wood was knocked down by a taxi.

Operations were cancelled at hospitals including King’s, Guy’s and St Thomas’ after a cyber attack. A computer failure at HM Revenue and Customs left about half a million people without their child benefit payments. Hundreds of passengers on Eurostar sought compensation after trains were delayed by a computer failure at Border Force. The King set out for Normandy to join former servicemen in large-scale commemorations of D-Day on its 80th anniversary.

Abroad

The United States said it had ‘every expectation’ that Israel would accept a ceasefire proposal pushed by President Joe Biden: if Hamas agreed too, a six-week cessation of hostilities in Gaza would begin, while humanitarian aid was sent in and some hostages were exchanged for Palestinian prisoners, before a permanent end to the war. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, said there would be no ceasefire until Hamas’s military and governing capabilities were destroyed. Israel’s military established the death of four hostages, killed during an Israeli operation in southern Gaza. Their bodies were still being held by Hamas.

New York jurors found Donald Trump, the former US president, guilty on all 34 charges brought against him of falsifying business records to conceal hush-money payments made to the former porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign. The trial of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, began, on charges of lying about his drug use on application forms when he purchased a handgun in 2018. Mexico elected Claudia Sheinbaum as its first female president. Rupert Murdoch, 93, was married for a fifth time, in a ceremony at his Californian vineyard, to Elena Zhukova, 67, a retired Russian biologist.

Russia accused Nato and America of ‘provoking a new level of tension’ after the United States and Germany approved Ukraine’s use of western-supplied weapons to strike targets inside Russia, especially in defence of Kharkiv. Five coffins draped in the French flag and inscribed ‘French soldiers of Ukraine’ were left near the Eiffel Tower; French intelligence officials blamed Russia. The BJP-led alliance of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, won India’s six-week election, with a reduced majority. North Korea said it had stopped sending balloons carrying bags of rubbish, including used lavatory paper, after 1,000 had landed in South Korea. An unmanned Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon and took off again two days later, laden with souvenirs.              CSH

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