The Spectator

Portrait of the Week: Tory phishing, tension over Rafah and Cameron in America


The review by Dr Hilary Cass of gender-identity services for people under 18 called for an end to prescribing powerful hormone drugs; warned that children who change gender may regret it; and found that many had experienced trauma, neglect and abuse. More than 150,000 patients had to wait more than 24 hours in A&E before getting a hospital bed last year, a tenfold increase on 2019. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, suggested that Labour could plug the gap in its spending commitments by getting more taxes sooner from non-doms. Five Bulgarians admitted in court to stealing more than £50 million in fraudulent claims for Universal Credit. Britain held talks with the European Commission on making Gibraltar part of the Schengen area. Peter Higgs, the British theorist of the Higgs boson, died aged 94. Lord Hoyle, the father of the Speaker of the House of Commons, who as Doug Hoyle had sat for 21 years as a left-wing Labour MP, died aged 98. Sir Paul Fox, an influential television executive, died aged 98. Michael Tanner, the Cambridge philosopher and The Spectator’s opera critic for more than 20 years, died aged 88.

A Conservative MP called William Wragg said that he had given someone he had met on a gay dating site the phone numbers of MPs and others because the man had ‘compromising things’ on him. He resigned as vice chairman of the 1922 Committee, as chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee and relinquished the Conservative whip. Some political journalists were contacted by a dubious-sounding person called Charlie or Abi and at least one MP sent back an indecent photo of himself. Ramsay El-Nakla, the brother-in-law of Humza Yousaf, the First Minister of Scotland, was charged with abduction and extortion following an incident in which a man fell from a block of flats and later died. In Bradford, a mother pushing her baby in a pram was fatally stabbed.

The Post Office Horizon IT inquiry heard evidence from former sub-postmaster Alan Bates. Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton flew to America to talk with Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, about support for Ukraine and the situation in Gaza; he also met Donald Trump. Stonegate, Britain’s biggest pub operator, with 4,000 outlets, warned of ‘material uncertainty’ about its continuing as a going concern. Kemble, the parent company of Thames Water, defaulted on a £400 million bond. Flooded farmers warned that some would be unable to produce a harvest for the first time since the end of the second world war.


In a 30-minute telephone call to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, Joe Biden, the US President, said America’s continuing support depended on Israel taking ‘specific, concrete steps’ to increase aid and to prevent civilian deaths. ‘I think what he’s doing is a mistake. I don’t agree with his approach,’ Mr Biden said in an interview. The move followed the killing of seven World Central Kitchen charity staff, for which Israel apologised, calling it a ‘grave mistake’. Mr Netanyahu said he had decided on a date to invade Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians live. Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated against him in Tel Aviv, demanding a deal to free the hostages in Gaza. Israel and Hamas sent delegations to Cairo for fresh ceasefire negotiations, but there were doubts about the number of hostages still alive.

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency expressed alarm after ‘at least three direct hits’ against the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia power station’s ‘main reactor containment structures’. Ukraine said that its drones had destroyed six Russian planes at an airbase in the Rostov region. The Ural river, Europe’s third-longest, burst its banks in the Russian city of Orsk. Hong Kong seized 146kg of gold disguised as machine parts in a cargo bound for Japan. Spain began dismantling a scheme under which visas were granted in return for buying property worth €500,000; of 6,200 such visas issued from 2013 to 2023, 2,712 went to Chinese people.

After the Islamic State called for ‘an attack on a sporting venue’, policing was increased in Madrid, Paris and London for the Champions League. Ecuador stormed the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest its former vice-president Jorge Glas. The parents of a 15-year-old who shot dead four pupils at Oxford High School, Michigan, were jailed for ten to 15 years for involuntary manslaughter; they had bought him the gun he used. Millions in North America enjoyed an eclipse of the sun.         CSH