It’s all about numbers. Boris Johnson’s counting on one thing – that ensnaring Number Eleven in the clutches of Number Ten will free him to splash the cash as he sees fit. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, it’s one thing to promise – another thing to deliver.
‘Money money money, must be funny, in the rich man’s world. Money money money, always sunny, in the rich man’s world.’
Abba. Dontcha just love ’em?
But how could those sexy Swedes, back in the seventies, know their song would resonate this very weekend?
Feeling flush, the Prime Minister’s been telling cabinet to crack on with fulfilling those expensive election pledges that helped get him elected.
Not that Sajid David was buying the sunny smile when Bojo set out his contract renewal terms in Thursday’s top table reshuffle.
What? I can only remain Chancellor if I fire all five of my special advisers? Not funny.
The upshot was that he was out, and there was a new face at the treasury within minutes.
Back in the sixties, Harold MacMillan was praised after his so-called night of the long knives cabinet makeover for ‘having kept his head when all about him were losing theirs’.
Same for Boris, so far. Though it’s worth noting en passant, excuse my French, that Supermac lasted less than two years before he followed hapless ex-chums down the pan.
On va voire, excuse my French again. Can’t be long now before Boris bans Froggie-speak, alongside the terms ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’, as well as ‘Brexit’.
It’s widely thought the idea of getting Javid to move his team out, to make space for the guys next door, was a power grab. To ensure Number Ten holds the purse strings if/when UK EU trade talks get sticky.
At that point, forget there may be trouble ahead. There will be.
Come December, if we’re stuck with an Australian-style arrangement, meaning no deal, there’ll be a lot of pain for a lot of people. Felt by many of the good folk from oop north who lent Boris their votes at the election.
Meaning a few months from now a political imperative could be looming. The need for hefty bribes to stop the natives revolting.
No one’s averse to a leg-up. Which is why it’s normal for PM’s to want to sign cheques. But keeping them in check is what Chancellors do. They do the sums, so you can see their point.
Makes for bad neighbours. Did for Tony and Gordon, as well as Maggie and one or two of her men.
Hence Johnson’s jolly jape. Snatch the purse strings and the boodle’s in the bag. Meaning when sweeteners are needed the sweeties are his for the handing out.
No coincidence perhaps that HS2 got the green light this week. Designed to ensure easy access to and from depressed post-industrial regions, it’s meant to unleash economic potential in constituencies stuffed full of wavering ex diehard Labour voters.
Great news. And there’s more.
Trains will zap along the hundreds of miles of spangly new track at speeds approaching 250 mph. Golly!
Brummies will whizz into The Smoke in less time than it takes to crawl in from Heathrow. Gosh!
And it’ll be pulling in in a jiff. Pretty much for free.
Er, cue the bad news.
When first mooted a decade ago, the high-speed link was going to set us back £20 billion. Crept up a bit since then. Current estimates are five times that amount.
And it won’t be done and dusted for another twenty years. So god knows how much it’ll end up costing.
There are talks underway with a Chinese firm that claims it can slash both costs and timeframe. Though that’s all it is for now. Talk.
But, one way or another, Bojo will get it done. It’s his way. Think Brexit.
Best not dwell on the Garden Bridge he had in mind for London. Could have been worse, mind, surveyors’ bills only ran to £53 million. Not to mention Boris Buses, later renamed ‘Saunas on Wheels’. The list goes on.
No worries, it’ll be fantastic. If Bojo says so it must be.
What’s that about that other blonde bombshell, Barbie? She’s fantastic too. Made of plastic, as the song goes.
But this is churlish. The man got the nation onside, got a stonking parliamentary majority and deserved his post Chrimbo beano.
And Mustique has mystique, no denying it.
However, denials have been trickling in about exactly who did foot the fifteen-grand bill for the grand gaff Bojo and Carrie holed up in.
He told the MP’s register of interests the accommodation came courtesy of a mate, Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross.
But this man insists he only helped arrange it. No more than that.
Now the grumble from the Labour opposition is ‘we should be told.’ Of course they would say that, but some voters may be curious too.
Although the most curious unanswered question of the week is surely the role Dominic Cummings played in jostling Javid out of Number Eleven.
Then again, maybe that’s transparently obvious, given that the woolly-hatted wonder got a couple of Chancellor’s staffers the boot ages ago.
Never knowingly understated, that man. He regularly tells groups of aides people do things his way these days. If they don’t like it, he’s once reported to have added, ‘there’s the f*cking door’.
A few days ago an Irish MEP was told off in the European parliament for calling Venezuela’s opposition leader an ‘unelected gobshite’.
Heaven forfend anyone should say anything like that about our man in Number Ten.
Then there’s our man in the Speaker’s chair, as was. Seems he might have talked his way out of the gong guys like him usually get when they step down.
No place at the rich man’s table after all for begging bowl Bercow, because too many Tories hate him too much. Likewise those who accuse him of bullying them.
Bang goes Lord Order of Ordure then. Or even, to please the missus, Baron Bish Bash Bollocks to Brexit.
All that on top of losing the tied cottage. Or, rather, Tide Cottage, as the Speaker’s House, nestling in the Palace of Westminster, overlooks the Thames. Surely one of the swankiest addresses in the world.
Pity the poor peers too. Ok, they just got a pay rise, but their per diem allowance has still only risen from £300 to £323.
That’s not much more than an over twenty-five year old single can claim on Universal Credit.
Well, that’s the monthly max. For those who don’t share the benefits of a lordly classical education, per diem means per day.
Bit of a misnomer though, as all the lords gotta do is show up. And, er, that’s it. Thus giving rise to the quaint acronym SISO. Short for Sign On, Sod Off.
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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