The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Lee Anderson defects, Ireland rejects and Kate photoshops


Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said that Britain needed to build new gas-fired power stations to ensure energy security. GDP grew by 0.2 per cent in January. The number of people of working age classed as economically inactive rose to 9.25 million, compared with 8.55 million in February 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics. Among those aged 16 to 34, economic inactivity was rising; among those aged 35 to 64 it had fallen. Long-term sickness accounted for 2.7 million people not in work, 600,000 more than four years ago. The National Health Service employed more than two million for the first time, more than a third of public-sector workers. Police removed 35 bodies and a quantity of ashes from Legacy Independent Funeral Directors at Hull and Beverley and arrested two people on suspicion of prevention of lawful and decent burial. No new prescriptions for puberty blockers will be given routinely to children at gender identity clinics, NHS England said.

Lee Anderson, an MP who was a former Conservative party deputy chairman (until suspended from the party after saying that Islamists had ‘got control of [Sadiq] Khan and they’ve got control of London’) joined the Reform party. Diane Abbott MP, who has lost the Labour whip, described as ‘frightening’ remarks from 2019 attributed by the Guardian to Frank Hester (who has donated £10 million to the Conservatives): ‘You see Diane Abbott on the TV, and you’re just like I hate, you just want to hate all black women because she’s there, and I don’t hate all black women at all, but I think she should be shot.’ The Prime Minister said that the reported words were racist. Then the game began of asking prominent Tories if they’d give the donations back. Failed asylum seekers will be offered £3,000 to move to Rwanda in a new voluntary scheme.

An interim report from Operation Kenova, the investigation into the activities of the army spy called Stakeknife working at the heart of the IRA (known to have been Freddie Scappaticci, who died last year), found that ‘brutal acts of torture and murder’ which could have been prevented were allowed to take place with the knowledge of the security forces in order to protect their agents. In response to the attempt by the United Arab Emirates to take control of the Daily Telegraph and The Spectator, the Labour party said that ‘foreign governments should not own national newspapers’; Lucy Frazer, the Culture Secretary, was considering official reports on the attempt. The Princess of Wales published a photograph with her children to show how well she was, then had to apologise because it had been edited and picture agencies would not circulate it.


The United States despatched a military ship from Virginia with equipment to build a temporary pier to allow large ships carrying aid to be unloaded on the coast of Gaza; 1,000 troops (none of whom would go ashore) could take up to 60 days to build the pier. America dropped food aid for Gaza, but five people were killed by a falling aid package when its parachute failed to open properly.

Ukraine complained after a Swiss broadcaster asked the Pope to comment on those who wanted Ukraine to seek a settlement with Russia – or wave the ‘white flag’, as the interviewer put it – and the Pope answered: ‘The strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates.’ Ukraine hit at least one large Russian oil refinery in a drone attack. America scraped together $300 million more in weaponry for Ukraine. On a flight from Sulawesi to Jakarta in Indonesia, both pilots fell asleep for 28 minutes.

In Ireland, the proposals of Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach, to amend the constitution were overwhelmingly rejected. In the referendum, 67.7 per cent of voters rejected the proposal that after the words ‘The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage’, the words ‘on which the Family is founded’ should be deleted; 73.9 of voters rejected the deletion of the sentence ‘The State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved’. The far-right Chega party made gains in the Portuguese elections. Armed gangs rampaged in Port-au-Prince; the Prime Minister of Haiti was unable to re-enter the country and resigned. Some of the penguins on South Georgia were found to have caught avian influenza.                  CSH