Andy Richardson: 'Something is rotten in the heart of Downing Street'

And so the nation starts to fracture.

The front door of number 10 Downing Street in London
The front door of number 10 Downing Street in London

No surprises, really, after Dominic’s trip to Durham, Stanley Johnson’s mask-free man-about-town routine, the billions squandered on failed test and trace and the gravy train boarded by those friends in high places. £7,000 a day to be a consultant, anyone?

During lockdown one, the nation made sacrifices. And then it saw that many of the elite were not. During lockdown one, Rishi rode in, a knight on his steed, providing the resources to stem the tide of redundancies and business failures. Not this time.

Businesses are crumbling. Demand has fallen. The hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries are in tatters. Money is failing to trickle down to those who need it most. It’s left to Marcus Rashford to feed the nation’s kids, local food banks to provide support for those on low incomes and entrepreneurs to muddle through.

The Government is in the toughest corner, of course. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, it’s similar to scores around the world. Except, much of the mess is of its own making. While comparable nations have taken decisive action to mitigate against the worst effects of Covid, throughout the year the Government’s ineptitude and incompetence has left us leading in tables for deaths, infection rates, business failures and economic harm.

Little wonder, therefore, that Boris’s carving up of the UK into different layers, like a geomorphological Battenburg cake, is already ending in tears. Some areas in Tier Two recognise the hardship that brings, with maximum restrictions and minimum Government support, and want to move to Level Three. Others, like Manchester, are resistant to the highest category because to do so would bring penury. Let’s be honest, a waiter or bar tender can’t survive on two thirds of the minimum wage.

Andy Burnham has become the Government’s worst night mayor, refusing to budge on their inadequate offer. Closer to home, the affable and adept Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, has distanced himself. There are few more agreeable, moderate and capable Mayors. Something is rotten in the heart of Downing Street.

Still, at least Brexit’s going well. Boris’s final, final, final deadline passed this week with a gigantic Euro shoulder shrug. No matter, we’ve signed a trade deal with Côte d’Ivoire, which is slightly more useful than one with Côte Brasserie.

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