Peter Rhodes on an old squeeze, a toxic jibe and why flying is mainly for the rich

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column by Peter Rhodes.

Boris - accused

HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock says there's a "very strong argument" for making it compulsory for children to be vaccinated before they can go to school. So is there a similar argument for older folk? Okay, granny. First you get your flu jab, then you get your pension . . .

TOLD you so. Two years ago I wrote: "Corbyn may have a few skeletons in his cupboard but (Boris) Johnson’s is one massive, heaving, bone-packed ossuary."

THE latest Boris skeleton concerns TV presenter Robert Peston's partner Charlotte Edwardes. In her first column for the Sunday Times, she recalls an incident "in the late 1990s / early 2000s" when Boris allegedly squeezed her thigh under the dining table. He denies it. She insists that he not only squeezed her thigh but also the thigh of the woman sitting on his other side. You may admire such multi-tasking. You may think it odd that Edwardes can't recall the date, or even the year, that this happened. You may wonder why she has waited until now to mention it. But I would not be surprised if Boris, especially 20 years ago was, as they say, a bit tactile.

THE question now is whether the nation wants Brexit badly enough to tolerate the alleged failings of a blond with a thing about blondes. In an opinion poll this week, Boris the Alleged Thigh Squeezer had 37 per cent approval rating while Jeremy Corbyn, who has never been accused of anything sexual, scored just 16 per cent. We may enjoy a good tut-tut but the days when a hint of scandal meant political suicide are long over.

ACCORDING to a Whitehall study, nearly 50 per cent of the UK population did not take a flight in the past year. One per cent of British residents were responsible for nearly a fifth of all flights abroad. In other words, despite 20 years of budget airlines, flying is still largely a pursuit of the wealthy. Which will no doubt make it easier to introduce a whopping "frequent flyer" tax, allegedly to protect the atmosphere from emissions but also to top up government coffers.

ONE novel idea being floated is an allowance of one tax-free flight per year (cheaper than today's flights) for every citizen but a progressive tax on every subsequent flight. Before imposing any new tax, governments worry about how many people will be outraged. The answer seems to be, not as many as anyone thought. That third runway at Heathrow looks less likely all the time.

THE alleged remorse over intemperate language by politicians didn't last long. I caught a snatch on Radio 4 where an SNP spokesman couldn't speak for more than 15 seconds before denouncing the Prime Minister as "toxic". If Johnson is toxic, what words describe the SNP, a party hell-bent on shattering the United Kingdom? It was a nasty case of the poisonous calling the venomous toxic.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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