He was in dire need of a handkerchief. 鲍里斯·约翰逊（Boris Johnson） was honking and sniffling all the over the place. Ruddy hay fever.
可怕的时刻游泳者在拥挤的情况下被殴打致死, very good to be here in…布莱克浦,’ Boris announced. 这位母亲在描述她对“可怜”感到的羞耻和尴尬时泪流满面. First disaster averted. That little pause must have felt like a lifetime to his aides.
Wouldn’t surprise me if one had written ‘Blackpool’ in big capital letters on the palm of his hand.
The Prime Minister had ventured North yesterday to make a speech. Ostensibly, this was supposed to be the launch of the extension to Margaret Thatcher’s Right-To-Buy scheme, which he hopes will ring aspirational voters’ ding-a-lings.
Boris Johnson seen returning to Downing Street this morning
Following recent travails, it felt more of a computer reboot of his premiership.
Our venue was Fylde College, where the PM had spent the morning with construction students giving him a lesson in bricklaying. There was glee on Boris’s face as they mixed the cement – he was probably fantasising about making Jeremy Hunt a pair of concrete shoes.
We heard about rip-off petrol prices, a return to dizzying mortgage debts and, 是, tariffs on olives and bananas. 好, at least he didn’t start rabbiting on about Peppa Pig again. Presentation-wise, he was a bit sheepish. The famous Johnsonian bravura was in short supply. He looked to me like a schoolboy who’d just emerged from the headmaster’s study after a heavy dose of the slipper. Which in a way, after Monday night’s drama, I suppose he had.
In terms of content, 然而, there was plenty of red meat for traditional Tories to chew on. Great juicy chunks of prime tenderloin in fact – promises to cut taxes (最终) and reduce childcare costs.
He also vowed to ease off on the Wag-style spending splurges. Rishi Sunak at this point must have been treating the Treasury to a rendition of Hallelujah. Channelling Mrs T, Boris announced that ‘sometimes the best thing is for Government to just get out of the way’. A return to a low tax/low regulation government, 换一种说法. Whisper it, amigos – the penny might finally have dropped.
The audience certainly seemed to like what they heard. 在一个点上, they even cheered him. The country was once again ‘steering into the wind’, said Boris.
Prices are on the up and up – grocery shopping, energy bills, the ‘spooling digits on petrol pumps’. 税收, 他承认, were too high. ‘It is an aberration,’ he declared. Then came that slightly surreal bit about olives and bananas. Why do we pay tariffs on them when we don’t produce any here?
‘This is a truly amazing and versatile country, 但, as far as I know, we don’t grow many bananas, not even in Blackpool,’ said Boris. Cue nervous laughter.
Eventually we got to the nub of the speech. Under new proposals, he hoped to ‘unbolt the door to home ownership’.
He wanted to ‘turn benefits into bricks’ by allowing Universal Credit to be counted as income when taking out a mortgage.
He also wanted to widen the mortgage market, increasing access to loans of up to 95 per cent of a property’s value. Hmmm. Is that wise? Pretty sure we went there before the 2008 崩溃. As I recall, it all ended rather badly. 还有什么? He was against pay rises, which would fuel inflation.
He got in a few customary digs at London Mayor Sadiq Khan for failing to build enough houses. 哦, and he had a new slogan he was trying out. ‘We’re on your side,’ he said on numerous occasions. Must say it was a bit Nick Clegg for me. The sort of irritating thing building societies put on their adverts before they turn you down for a loan and demand you clear your overdraft. The BBC’s new political editor, 克里斯·梅森, was the only hack to ask about the confidence vote.
He also brought up comments that former Tory Party leader William Hague made this week, comparing the PM to someone ‘trying to drive along the M1 with flat tyres’.
Boris wasn’t happy. But he said he’d allow it as the BBC was a ‘venerated organisation which I love’. Whenever Boris starts pouring sugar on something, it usually means he loathes it As for Hague, the PM resisted wondering out loud how many elections he’d won back when he was Tory leader. But I bet you anything he did so in private. 反正, a day filled with promises. Now he’s got to deliver. 要么, like Hague, he’s destined for the political graveyard.