7 Days

Trimble back David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, returned as Northern Ireland's First Minister four days after failing to get a majority of his own party members in the Northern Ireland assembly. Members of the Alliance Party temporarily re-designated themselves as Unionsts to secure his re-election.

Islam pledge rejected The Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, refused to sign a pledge promising not to use inflammatory language against Muslims. The pledge was signed by Tony Blair and the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy. Duncan Smith said that he would "always be intolerant of those who are intolerant of others".

Breast cancer soars A survey revealed that breast cancer is now the most common form of cancer in the UK, with 39,500 new cases diagnosed each year, outnumbering even those of lung cancer. However, according to the survey, breast cancer survival rates are improving; researchers estimate that more than 70 per cent of all patients receive successful treatment.

Michelle wreaks havoc Hurricane Michelle, the worst storm to hit Cuba in 50 years, pounded the island. Torrential rain and winds of up to 135mph forced an estimated 750,000 people to evacuate their homes and left five people dead.

Spanish blast A car bomb near Madrid city centre exploded, injuring nearly 100 people, including a senior government minister and a British national. The Basque separatist group ETA is believed to be responsible. Two people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Jewish imports The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, further antagonised Palestinians by announcing plans to encourage another million Jews to settle in Israel. Palestinians fear the new immigrants will expand the settlements in Palestinian territories on the West Bank and Gaza.

This article first appeared in the 12 November 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Essay - The Empire strikes back