The Spectator

Portrait of the Week: Reeves speaks, Varadkar resigns and Putin plots


Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said that if Labour were elected it would aim to borrow only for investment. Annual inflation fell to 3.4 per cent in February, from 4 per cent in January. Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, said that only a ‘small minority of MPs’ were talking about getting rid of Rishi Sunak as party leader and replacing him with Penny Mordaunt. Mr Sunak rushed to Coventry to announce a scheme to help apprentices. Barack Obama, the former US president, called at 10 Downing Street. Vaughan Gething became the First Minister of Wales; his father was born in Glamorgan and his mother in Zambia, and he said: ‘I have the honour of becoming the first black leader in any European country.’

Some 4,000 miles of undersea cables and 1,000 miles of power lines with pylons must be built between 2030 and 2035, costing £58 billion, to meet government decarbonisation targets, according to the Electricity Systems Operator, owned by National Grid but due to be taken into government ownership later in the year. Church of England dioceses reported that between 5 per cent and 21 per cent of parishes had no churchwardens, according to a Church Times survey. HM Revenue and Customs was to close its helplines from 8 April until 29 September, but Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, told it not to. The Commons rejected all ten Lords amendments to the Rwanda Bill and sent it back to the Upper House. A day earlier, 62 migrants crossed the Channel.

Lucy Frazer, the Culture Secretary, said that she was minded to refer the attempt, backed by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Telegraph and The Spectator for an in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority. In an interview she said that it was ‘inappropriate for the UK government to own a newspaper, and it’s therefore also inappropriate for a foreign state to own a newspaper’. Children aged 12 will be allowed to see cannabis smoked in films because of a ‘greater tolerance of dope’ among the public, according to the British Board of Film Classification. The government introduced a bill to make it an offence for anyone born after 31 December 2008 to buy cigarettes ever. A computer fault at McDonald’s left customers unable to order food at many shops; another at Sainsbury’s left it unable to make a day’s deliveries, and another hit Greggs. Rose Dugdale, an art-thief in support of the IRA, for which she made bombs, died aged 82. A female Deliveroo driver pleaded guilty to biting off a customer’s thumb.


Vladimir Putin won 87.28 per cent of votes cast, according to the electoral commission, to be re-elected as the President of Russia. ‘This is not what free and fair elections look like,’ Lord Cameron, the British Foreign Secretary, remarked. Addressing crowds on the tenth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea, Mr Putin announced that the railway from Russia to Mariupol would be extended to the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. Leo Varadkar said he was resigning as the Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader, for ‘personal and political, but mainly political, reasons’. Bodies lay in the streets of Port-au-Prince as Haiti was caught in the chaos of gang rivalry. Sudan’s civil war continued.

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said that all ‘the population in Gaza is at severe levels of acute food insecurity’. Israeli negotiators flew to Qatar in a fresh attempt to find an agreement with Hamas to stop the fighting, bring in humanitarian aid and free Israeli hostages. Israel killed Marwan Issa, Hamas’s no. 3, in an air strike on a tunnel complex under the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. Israeli forces took control of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City and said they had killed 50 Hamas militants there.

Hong Kong passed a harsh new security law known as Article 23. The House of Representatives passed a bill that gave ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, six months to sell its controlling stake before the app was blocked in America. Donald Trump’s lawyers said that obtaining a bond to cover the $464 million judgment in his New York fraud case was a ‘practical impossibility’. Shigeichi Negishi, the inventor of the karaoke machine, died aged 100. The Bank of Japan increased its key interest rate for the first time in 17 years – from minus 0.1 per cent to a range of 0 to 0.1 per cent. A computer fault at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia allowed customers to withdraw more money than they had in their accounts; anyone returning money would not be charged with a criminal offence, the president of the bank said hopefully.       CSH