CUI BONO DE BOTTON
The irony of Amber de Botton’s appointment as Rishi’s Head of Communications is not lost on Guido.
Her tenure at ITV news not only had Allegra Stratton ejected from her position of PM’s spokeswoman (footage of her joking about a “fictional party” found its way into ITV’s hands), she was also at least partially responsible for the demise of Boris himself. No investigation conclusively identified the source(s) for the various images and video footage Amber broadcast.
The Partygate pictures of Boris toasting staff with a glass of champagne set off a train of events which has ended up in the Privileges committee. Boris, Labour claimed, had misled the Commons with his declaration that no party had taken place. Amber de Botton broadcast the incriminating picture – food, wine, toasting. The Privileges investigation due to start in November was frequently cited as a great risk factor in the Second Coming of Boris and may have been decisive in the minds of several of his one-time backers.
But what sort of person would leak photographs so incriminating that they would lead to the demise of a prime minister and create a vacancy at the top of the political establishment that could be filled by a detail-conscious, economically-studious politician who felt he carried the true spirit of fiscally-responsible conservatism?
The mystery may never be solved.
TORA TORA TORY!
The exit wound left by Boris is still wide and weeping but the party is doing its best to dress it up with declarations of support and approval. The reception for Rishi by the 1922 committee was perhaps the noisiest in modern times.
Filming in the committee corridor is not permitted but audio is allowed. For the first time, then, the internal procedures of the 1922 committee may be broadcast. It’s not a complete record but we take what we can.
There were half a dozen rolls like this – very loud, very long and very interesting for their sheer undiminished persistence. Did they signify approval – or were they war drums?
We should watch what’s happening in the Lords, the Northern Ireland Bill, perhaps. A wrecking crew of Boris loyalists is meeting: his Avengers assemble. The threat that works among MPs in the Commons (“You’ll bring the government down, there’ll be a general election and you’ll lose your seat!”) has no traction among life peers. In their constitutional heaven they have achieved eternal political life.
THE CELESTIAL BANKER WALKED AMONG US
Mark Carney – sometime governor of the Bank of England turned climate finance supremo – walked through the carnage of the Committee Corridor on Monday. Tory MPs biting and barking at each other – he passed through them as if in a different dimension. Which, of course, he is. He operates on another level of existence.
He gave an audience to the Environmental Audit committee to baffle and beguile its members. His global gabble is not impossible to penetrate but it is impossible to comprehend.
Let me make another, broader point about energy. To take a step back, if we do not ramp up, it is exceptionally difficult to shut off. If the idea is to say, “Stop financing today, including working capital and any exposure to the energy sector and the auto sector,” with the emphasis on the ramp and on the investment incentives that Mr Gardiner mentioned, or on the permitting—you are the ones on the political frontline, but that gives you the ability to shut off without ramping up and without a replacement; you can make your own judgment.
But simply because it’s incomprehensible doesn’t mean it is meaningless.
Sceptics take heart from every report from every COP gathering – that it has failed in its aims; that the fossil fuel countries have resisted the consensus; that the developing world is ploughing on with coal and oil use. They like to think there is no practical way any of the Net Zero plan can come to fruition.
But that is to abandon the field. There is an entire architecture of industrial, financial and social incentives being slipped into place by Mark Carney and his confrères. Carbon tariffs. Personal carbon allowances. The campaign to dissuade investment in oil and gas. It’s all coming together behind the scenes, and only talked about in this private language they have developed.
Clive Lewis performed a public service when he thrust a fork into the peloton-toned posterior of the climate pontiff – accusing him of colluding with the fossil fuel industry by his owning an oil tanker. That really woke him up and caused him to lapse into plain English:
Do you know how big 103 GW is? Do you have a sense of how much that costs? Do you have a sense of anyone else who builds that?
That is as close to swearing as anyone in Carney’s position comes. It was an insignificant victory in the scheme of things, but we take what we can get.
WHO’S ’AVING A LAUGH?
Harry Cole’s book on Liz Truss revealed that senior officials warned her that the U.K. was at risk of becoming a “third-world country” unable to sell its debt on bond markets and with the City of London “reduced to rubble” as a result of their mini-budget.
Is this our world-class, Rolls Royce of a civil service? This is the sort of language used by comedians on the BBC.
LOOK ON MY WORKS, YE MIGHTY
The Vote Office has copies of the Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand. It’s a small country but the Agreement document is an inch thick. All human and a good deal of non-human life is there. Among the thousands of import categories there are lists of things that might be animal, vegetable or mineral. What, for instance, are abura, afrormosia, ako, andiroba and the 90 other items in 4407.29.83?
There must be stories behind every category explaining why tariffs differ. Why is the duty on Hydrogen 2% but 4% for Argon? Jellyfish attract a 25% duty. Which pressure groups lobbied against jellyfish? How much was paid to what plethora of consultants to succeed in fixing the “finely homogenised offal of domestic swine for infants” to be charged at £71 per 100 kilos – and whose victory was it that made “prepared mixtures of swine” to be taxed only at 10%?
They have an import category for the offal of dugongs.
Liz Truss masterminded this agreement, let her have it as a monument to her passing, that “inedible mixtures or preparations ‘yellow grease’ of animal fats and oils and their fractions” attract an import duty of 2%.