MANDRAKE: Boris Johnson is our laziest PM yet
PUBLISHED: 09:25 28 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:25 28 September 2019
2018 Anthony Devlin
TIM WALKER hears the prime minister’s routine is ’leisurely’ to say the least, while the Tories are struggling to find the cash for a general election.
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Boris Johnson may have claimed to be working non-stop - "I burn the candles at both ends" - but within Downing Street I hear his routine is considered to be "leisurely" compared to his predecessors.
"Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May were all early birds, but Johnson, by contrast, doesn't come down from his private flat above No.11 much before 9am and even then he looks dishevelled," a Downing Street staffer tells me.
"He claims he doesn't need much sleep, but, if he's had much less than eight hours, you know about it. He had to be woken up early the day of the visit to the police training college in West Yorkshire and you saw how he handled that speech.
"In the early days, he drove himself a lot harder, even putting a comb through his hair and tucking in his shirt, but he seems to be getting back to the routine of a newspaper office, where late starts and a relaxed dress code are the custom."
Johnson, and his lover Carrie Symonds, plumped for the four-bedroom flat above No.11, traditionally the home of the chancellor, as it's more spacious than the No.10 flat. My informant adds that it now feels very much like "student digs". He says: "The cleaners have their work cut-out. Johnson is not a neat and tidy individual."
Outside the Supreme Court last week, there were resounding cheers as Gina Miller arrived and left each day, but there was also a small contingent of stocky, white, middle-aged men who shrieked at her at close quarters that she should be "hung, drawn and quartered".
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It should of course have been "hanged", but the offence wasn't merely grammatical: this was by any standards what the Public Order Act 1986 defines as "threatening, abusive or insulting words". Many men spoke with passion inside the court against Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament, but it was, as ever, a lone woman these yobs picked on. If they sought to intimidate Miller, they clearly hadn't reckoned with her. She'd have no talk of using a back entrance: that's more Johnson's style, in any case.
The Tories may profess to be up for a general election, but have they the money to pay for one? Any hopes that Lord Feldman's return to the fold could have boosted the coffers have proved unfounded. New accounts reveal that the Conservative Party Foundation, who's board Feldman rejoined last year, has seen a six-figure dip it both income and profits.
Income is down from £1.7 million in 2017 to £935,000, while profits dropped from £1.2 million in 2017 to just under £600,000 last year. Big corporate donors, mindful of the economic illiteracy of the party's policy on Brexit, are simply no longer willing to dig deep.
Still, on the bright side, the foundation's accountants have yet again managed to escape a tax bill using a £176,000 allowance for 'income not taxable' to secure a £16,800 future tax rebate. So far so good - with just £28,000 paid in corporation tax disclosed to date on £3.6 million in profits.
Just as I predicted last year, Baroness Featherstone, is accorded but one brief mention in David Cameron's memoirs in relation to how the coalition government came to introduce same sex marriage. "She did an excellent job leading on what became the biggest consultation in government history," he writes.
With precious little to boast about, Cameron devotes an entire chapter of For the Record to gay marriage and portrays himself as the man who made it happen. Anyone who has read Featherstone's book Equal Ever After will know it wasn't quite like that.
As she tells me: "Just saying I led on the consultation process totally overlooks the fact the policy came from me and the Lib Dems. It was of course helpful Cameron came to support what we wanted to do - despite opposition from within his own party - but it didn't start with him. Cameron never said gay marriage was going to be their big signature policy. What the Tories actually proffered in their so-called contract for equalities was stopping it being illegal to call civil partnership 'marriage.' That was it."
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