HENRY DEEDES: Dishy needs to show up and open his cheque book, growled MP
Where was Rishi? The Chancellor had gone doggo. AWOL. MIA.
After Chris Whitty effectively torpedoed the hospitality industry at Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference, Labour’s Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) today requested Dishy come to the Commons and pledge another series of eye-boggling cheques to keep businesses from going under.
McFadden, incidentally, was standing in for Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves, who was recently been hit by this wretched virus.
She’s the third Labour frontbencher to get it this week. Omicron has got MPs dropping like guardsmen on a hot August afternoon.
Yet the Chancellor Boy Wonder was nowhere to be seen. Turned out he’d hopped on a plane on Tuesday to sunny California for a series of ‘business meetings’, whatever they might be. Power brunches with Elon Musk, perhaps.
Doubtless he will also have time to swing by his schloss in Santa Monica while he’s there.
What with Boris’s personal ratings disappearing up the chimney, the timing of the trip seemed fortuitous.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been absent from the House of Commons and briefings while on a four-day trip to California
Shades of John Major sauntering off to have a dicky wisdom tooth seen to just when Mrs Thatcher’s premiership was disappearing down the swanny.
Instead we had to make do with Economic Secretary John Glen (Con, Salisbury).
Glaringly nondescript, Mr Glen in some ways is the ideal sacrificial lamb. Few outside the Treasury even know who he is.
An ex-management consultant, he has a fondness for wonkish accountancyspeak and that godawful phrase ‘going forward’.
He always reminds me of the guy in science fiction movies who always gets killed first.
Labour’s Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East) requested Mr Sunak come to the Commons and pledge another series of cheques to keep businesses from going under
Old man McFadden wasn’t happy at being denied the chance to grapple with the big dog.
A disgruntled diner who’d requested the filet mignon only to be handed a disappointing plate of off-cuts.
Mr Glen insisted Rishi’s trip had been ‘long planned.’
No doubt it was. But with these new restrictions, would it not have been wiser to cancel?
The hospitality sector is facing further turmoil this Christmas as the Omicron strain continues to wreak havoc
As Omicron rages, it is increasingly clear some companies will not survive the coming months. Around the chamber there came a constant flurry of demands for assistance for those struggling to keep their heads above water.
Poor Mr Glen was ill equipped to deal with the onslaught. He had been given little instruction from No 10 other than that it was ‘engaging’ with businesses.
It was like watching a loinclothed Christian, sent into the amphitheatre to face the lions armed with nothing but a soup spoon.
Theresa Villiers (Con, Chipping Barnet) demanded clarification on socialising. Stay at home or go out? Mr Glen insisted parties were on – he plans to take his constituency team for lunch next Monday.
Dave Doogan (SNP, Angus) informed the House he would ‘follow the advice’ and proudly revealed that he would not be treating his staff to any such jolly.
What a grinch. Several Tories were miffed about Professor Whitty taking matters into his own hands.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak visits a Wagamama restaurant in central London during last year’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, and after meeting staff he helped serve some customers their food
There was a feeling that the Chief Medical Officer had gone rogue. Steve Brine (Con, Winchester) said that by ordering us all to cut back on our festivities, the Chief Medical Officer had ‘at a stroke’ changed government policy and put the country ‘into effective lockdown’.
Advisers were ‘now running the show’, he said, adding sharply: ‘I bet none of them run businesses facing complete ruin as a result of what was said last night.’
Also taking aim at Whitty was Steve Baker (Con, Wycombe).
He suggested when officials speak – ‘particularly from podiums at press conferences’ – they should stay within the bounds of the policy decided by ministers. Ouch.
With MPs heading into Christmas recess last night, Andrew Murrison (Con, SW Wiltshire) thought Parliament should reconvene next week to continue their procrastinations.
As if that’s an answer to anything. Though it might be an idea for our absent Chancellor to change out of his Bermudas and get back to Westminster pronto.