A good Monday morning to you all. A lovely bright morning in London, but cold. I nipped out into to the garden before breakfast, you know I hate using the litter tray, and my poor little feet got really cold on the frosty grass! No way am I patrolling outdoors today until it warms up a bit, I think a foreshortened patrol round the offices after breakfast is in order. Talking of litter trays, I hear there is a shortage of “own brand” cat litter at the big supermarkets. A company called Bob Martin, which made most of the own brand stuff, has gone into administration and only the expensive stuff is left on the shelves. As my stuff is bought by the Civil Service I’m not bothered, they wouldn’t be seen dead buying “own brand”
The news is still full of Ginge and Whinge. Ginge has said he’s sorry to be opting out of his royal duties, but that for the sake of his wife and child he had to take “a leap of faith” and go to Canada. However, he said he still has the “utmost respect” for the Queen. Later that same morning Ginge went off to an Africa/U.K. investment conference that Bozzie was hosting for 21 African leaders. Bozzie had a private meeting with Ginge in a room at the Intercontinental Hotel. They insisted on no civil servants being present; I’ve yet to find out what it was all about. Someone must have been doing Ginge’s packing for him because he later boarded a British Airways flight to Canada. Bet he went First Class. At the conference Bozzie made a speech reiterating his general election policy of introducing a new immigration system when we leave the EU. He talked about an Australian type points system and coined a new catch phrase “People not Passports” saying to the African leaders that the new system would be fairer to non-EU people.
Tony Hall jumped before he was pushed and announced his resignation from his £450k pa job as Director General of the BBC. He’s getting out just as things are getting tough for the BBC. They’re in the middle of rows over pay for women and equal pay for equal work having lost some recent tribunal’s, resulting in big pay-outs. Added to this Bozzie has talked about whether a licence fee (Telly Tax) can be justified in present circumstances. The BBC has a guaranteed licence settlement until 2027 but it’s all up for grabs now that Lord Hall is off to be Chairman of the National Gallery. You can bet that he’s going to get a wage increase, it’s jobs for the boys.
News of the Government commissioned report on HS2 leaked out today. It’s supposed to say that the phase one cost is likely to go up to £106 billion from the last estimate of £85 billion. However, it recommends that phase one should go ahead as it is so far advanced and there’s no other way of getting the needed capacity increase to the West Coast main line. The report further recommends a short halt to phase two planning, so that a mix of high speed and standard trains can be investigated.
Enough for today, I’m off to see what’s for dinner tonight and then to my basket. It’s been a hard day.
Up for breakfast at my normal time. Just like yesterday it’s bright and cold, I think I’ll avoid going out again until the frost melts. As usual Bozzie had the radio on with Nick Ferrari, he prefers him to Pinchy and Piers as he’s a leaver. I hear today that Gibraltar is thinking about joining the EU’s Schengen Zone so that Spanish workers can have passport free access to do their work in Gibraltar. The U.K. Government has said this isn’t something the Gibraltar Government has control over, it’s a decision for the U.K. Government and they won’t entertain it.
Another day brings more good financial news for the U.K. Firstly the IMF has announced that it has revised the growth figures for the U.K. upwards over the next couple of years. According to them the U.K. is going to outperform the EU. So much for the dire predictions of Christine Lagarde when she was at IMF before skipping to a better paid job with the ECB. She was always running down the U.K. and predicting awful things for us if we dared to leave the EU. U.K. employment numbers for the three months to November were published with the number of unemployed down and those in full time employment up. I keep hearing that there is a lot of pent up investment money in the UK waiting to be spent just as soon as we are out of the EU. Facebook has said that it’s going to create 1000 new jobs in London this year, is this the first of many such announcements?
The Government has announced that it’s going to get tougher on terrorists. Minimum sentences for those found guilty of terrorism related offences could get 14 years in prison from today. Once they’ve served their sentence they’ll be given lie detector tests to help find out whether they’ve been reformed in prison and should be released. I think they should never be let out, but I’m only a cat. I had to laugh at how naive the Scots are. They’re building a new big offshore wind farm, the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe. The project has been awarded to the French company EDF and the Scots have said how surprised they are that the contract to build the turbines has gone to an American company who will make them in France. When you are dealing with a French company, they will always favour a French manufacturer over a Scottish or British one. Of course, they’ve awarded the contract just before we leave the EU so there is nothing we can do about it.
It’s been announced that American Forces arriving in the U.K. are to be given training in driving on British roads as we have lots of things that are different to the States. I can think of roundabouts, 3 colour traffic lights, no automatic right turn on red lights and lots of narrow unlit country lanes. However, the most important is driving on the left and it’s a bit late to teach them about that! Jess Phillips has pulled out of the Labour leadership race. She told her supporters that someone who could unite the party was necessary for the leader and that was not her. I think that really she knew she had no chance. I’m guessing the next one out will be Lady Nugee.
Cold again this morning, but at least no frost, so I ventured into the garden to avoid the litter tray. I’m doing my best to avoid using it while the cat litter shortage continues. I read that production is due to restart very soon but it may be a few weeks before it is back on the supermarket shelves. I hope we don’t have snow or my bits are going to get frozen. I quite like Wednesdays, I get the chance to see Bozzie on TV being rude to the Tramp, who is too stupid to realise he is having the pee extracted. But before that it’s the normal routine of keeping my ears open over breakfast to see what I can learn. Not a lot to report this morning. Bozzie and Dom had a chat about who they would like to win the Labour leadership but it was pretty inconclusive as they don’t really care, they think they’re all pretty useless. The Fat One thinks she is so clever, but is really pretty thick and Bozzie is always laughing about her. The blonde one, with a mouth like my arse, is like a female Corbyn and like Stoma hasn’t learned a thing from the election defeat. The other one is my favourite, but she seems too nice to be leader and hasn’t got much experience.
I hear that Labour has now got two candidates through to the ballot stage of the Leadership election. Nandy Pandy joined Stoma on the ballot paper when “Chinese for Labour” announced they were backing her. I didn’t know that such a group existed or that the Chinese supported Labour, but thinking about it, I suppose it only logical that a communist country should support what is a left-wing party. After the normal PMQ’s knockabout, which was very short, there were a series of votes on the 5 amendments that the Lords made to the EU Withdrawal Bill. The Government won them all easily with big majorities. Now the bill could play ping pong between the Commons and the Lords until they can agree on the wording before the Queen is requested to give the Royal Assent.
Early this evening, after a lot of moaning by the Lords, they backed down on their amendments and the Withdrawal Bill now only has to get Royal Assent to become law. We WILL be leaving!
On this day in 1892 one of my predecessors as Downing Street cat was killed by two bull terriers. The strange thing is she wasn’t an official cat like me, she was a stray who took up residence in a sentry box that was opposite No 10 and nobody ever gave her a name. She was fed by a number of famous people including Gladstone and Salisbury. There’s supposed to be a memorial stone to her somewhere, I’d like to find it.
We had a visit to No 10 today by Richard Ratcliffe and his little daughter. He went off to talk with Bozzie about his wife who’s in prison in Iran and left me to entertain the little girl. We got on famously and she wanted to take me home with her. That wasn’t on, I have an official job here. The Queen gave her Royal Assent to the EU Withdrawal Act today and the Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans, announced it to a nearly empty commons this afternoon. A bit later a big delivery of English sparkling wine was delivered to No 10. Nice to see that that Bozzie is going to celebrate with English wine and not champagne. I wonder if the Mutt and I will be able to get a drop.
The other day it was reported that Steptoe wanted Bercow to be made a peer. Today it emerged that Bercow has been officially reported by a previous senior adviser for bullying. I also heard that he’s been accused of exposing himself. I wonder how many more people will now come forward with complaints. I can’t see Bercow getting his peerage now. I got to watch Question Time again tonight. Half the programme was taken up with a discussion on how to stop black people stabbing other black people. Of course, it was all the fault of the evil Tories for cutting police, park keepers and teaching assistants. The second questions was about the Labour party living in a London bubble, which most people in the audience seemed to think was true. The final question was about giving politicians lie detector tests. I had to agree with the black bloke, who asked what the point was.
Anyway, I’ve been awake longer than usual, I’m off for a pee and then then I’m going to curl up in my basket.
As usual Bozzie had the Radio on while I ate my Felix. Mr Ferrari seemed to be very upset by the Rasta man, who attack a copper with a machete, not being found guilty of attempted murder. I think Bozzie agreed with him by the huffing and puffing coming from his direction. I see the Judge has this morning given him a 16-year sentence and said he should only be considered for release after serving two thirds of it. When he’s released he’ll be on Licence for another 3 years. Good, but it should have been longer.
Now that the European Withdrawal Bill has become an Act, with the Queen giving her Royal Assent, the only things that remained was the signing of the treaty, firstly by EU leaders, followed by Bozzie and then the EU Parliament. The EU leaders signed it this morning and the document is said to be on its way to London by Eurostar for Bozzie to sign. It then goes back to Brussels where the Parliament meets next Wednesday to sign it off. If they refused to sign it off would we be in or out? One little thing I heard is that we only get a copy of the Treaty, the EU get to have the original.
This virus in China seems to be getting worse with the number of people infected and dying going up every day. They’ve shut down the transport systems in eleven cities to try to stop the spread. I heard someone say that the “experts” think the virus started in bats that were eaten by snakes and the snakes were eaten by people. It’s said that the virus has had to mutate to jump species and is now capable of person to person transmission in a similar way to colds or flu. Bozzie is, somewhat appropriately, holding a Cobra meeting this afternoon. I think I am safe as the virus hasn’t been reported in cats yet and I don’t eat Bats or snakes. More good news for Bozzie this afternoon. The US Treasury Secretary, who has a funny name, I think it’s Steven Mnuchin, made a speech today where he said that the USA wanted to have a full Free Trade Agreement with us and that we would be at the head of the queue of countries in negotiations. More importantly he said they want it this year. That would be great for Bozzie.
Saturday is usually a quiet day in Downing Street and today seems to be no exception. Bozzie still has the Radio on at Breakfast but it’s some old Tennis Player instead of his favourite Mr Ferrari. I know he isn’t so happy with this bloke as he keeps complaining to the Little Otter about him, calling him a Remoaner. But today he had Bozzie laughing as he was talking about the Labour leadership contest and basically saying they were all rubbish. He was particularly hard on Becky Wrong Daily who he said was continuity Corbyn, which Bozzie particularly liked. Another thing that Tennis Man pointed out was that at the end of last week there was a lot of good financial news but that it hardly got reported. It’s like it doesn’t fit in with the BBC’s agenda that leaving the EU is going to be a disaster. Firstly, there was good news on the unemployment numbers, then there was the IMF prediction that Britain would outgrow the EU in general and France and Germany in particular. The US said it wanted a huge free trade deal by the end of the year and the purchasing managers Index made a huge jump, into positive territory, for the first time in ages.
I had to laugh at the French Chef who has lived in the U.K. for 23 years complaining in the Guardian that he had been refused residency in the U.K. and making out that it was all due to Brexit. What it was actually down to was him being stupid and applying for the wrong thing. Despite all the advertisements for the settled status scheme he applied to become a permanent resident and he didn’t give the right information. When the Home Office turned down his application they explained why and told him he should go through the correct scheme but instead he complained to the Guardian. What a thicko!
The rules for the Labour leadership contest banned candidates from using party data to communicate with members. It has been said that this rule was brought in by the party’s procedures committee, earlier this month, to try to stop Keir Stoma telling the membership how well he was doing. The first person to break the rule was Rebecca Wrong Daily, who used the data to write to her own constituents. What did Corbyn’s Labour party do about the breach? It changed the rules so that the Corbyn continuity candidate didn’t fall foul. They’re now letting candidates use party data to communicate with members of their own CLP but no one else. Guess who Corbyn wants to win? No doubt the contest rules will be changed as they go along to facilitate it happening.
One small bit of personal news. One of the girls in the offices has got a bag of Dreamies cat treats in her desk and has taken to giving me half a dozen most days. They are my favourite chicken flavour, crunchy and tasty. I think I’m in love with them.
That’s all for this week, I’ll be back writing (well dictating) on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file