Morning all, welcome to another week’s happenings in Westminster from your favourite cat Diarist (I have to big myself up, no one else will). A story this morning proves that some people never learn. At a husting in the Black Country town of Dudley yesterday the 3 Labour leadership contenders where asked whether they’d rule out campaigning to rejoin the EU in the 2024 General Election. Wrong Daily & Nandy Pandy both said they would, but Stoma wouldn’t rule it out, saying it was a decision “for our kids”. A strange thing for Stoma to say as Labour lost both Dudley seats to the Tories and a post election survey found leaving the EU was a major reason. In the early hours of Sunday morning the Italian Government locked down a huge amount of Northern Italy, including several large cities and 15 provinces, accounting for about 16 million people. The Foreign Office is advising against travel to the area although at the moment Britons there are allowed to leave.
Covid-19 is also making headlines at home with a 4th person in the UK dying. Once again, it was an older man with underlying health problems. The number of diagnosed cases in the UK reached 319 today. As a cat I’m unaffected by the virus, maybe it’s time for Bozzie to make me his deputy, then I can step up and run the country when the Cabinet has to go into isolation. I’m already thinking about my cabinet and policies. Will there be a position for the Mutt you ask? I’ll let you guess, but one of my first actions will be to reintroduce Dog Licenses.
The first witness at the Alex Salmond trial has been telling how she was attacked at Bute House, the then First Ministers official residence. She claimed he was drunk and carrying an opened bottle of red wine. She further claimed that she only escaped because he fell into a drunken sleep. I’m delighted it was red wine he was drinking, so much more upmarket than white wine! Whinge and Ginge were at Westminster Abbey today for their last official Royal duties. They were accompanying the Queen, Jug Ears & Camilla and Wills & Kate for the annual Commonwealth Service. Only Whinge looked happy, perhaps because she knew she would soon be flying back to Canada.
The stock market had a truly awful day with falls reminiscent of 1987. It was caused by the double whammy of Covid-19 and oil prices. The international demand for oil has been falling and OPEC wanted to reduce production to keep the price up. Saudi Arabia, which is one of the worlds leading producers, had a row with Russia, another major producer, as it refused to consider reducing production. Consequently, they’re both pushing out oil that isn’t selling, so the asking price is going down and spooking the market. A man was shot dead by the police last night, just down the road from here near Trafalgar Square. Police said that he’d been acting suspiciously and they challenged him. He pulled out 2 knives, they tasered him several times before they finally shot him. I wonder, was it another “potential terrorist”?
Things are getting serious in the Republic of Ireland. They’ve cancelled all the St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivals. The Dublin Parade, which should have been on the 17th March is huge, with around 500,000 people attending last year. I guess such a big gathering is unacceptable in these Covid-19 days.
Over breakfast this morning I watched Nandy Pandy and Piers Morgan having a lovely row over transgender rights on Good Morning Britain. He repeatedly asked her if she felt it was unfair for men who identified as female to compete in women’s sport. She wouldn’t really answer saying it was up to sporting bodies to decide. He pressed hard for a straight answer but didn’t get one. Airlines are being forced to fly nearly empty planes because of EU rules. In order to retain slots at airports airlines have to keep operating planes even if they have no passengers booked. Virgin has been badly affected because of its flights to China & Hong Kong and is one of a number of airlines which has appealed to the EU to suspend its “use it or lose it” rules. Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has written to the EU asking for “flexibility and adaptability”, things which the EU isn’t famous for.
A transgender campaigner has lost a court of appeal case against the government over gender neutral passports. The law says that passports must carry an “M” for male or an “F” for female . The campaigner wanted to have passports marked with an “X” for transgender people. They refer to themselves as “person” and use “Pr” instead of “Mr”, “Mrs” or “Miss”. I’ve never met a transgender cat. Wills and Kate are going down a storm on their visit to Dublin. Wills even tried to speak a little bit of Irish and tried a pint of draught Guinness. He even made a bad joke about coming to spread Corona virus.
Nadine Dorries is the first MP to be diagnosed with Covid-19. The junior health minister, who Bozzie calls ‘the old Doris’, is self-isolating at home. She is believed to have met lots of people in Parliament during the last week and she also attended a reception at No 10. Fortunately I didn’t meet her that evening, there were too many people there for my liking and I didn’t fancy being trodden on! There are now 373 cases in the UK, up 54 from yesterday, with another death, taking that total up to 6. Once again it was a man in his 80’s with underlying health conditions.
The wonders of new technology have been rather exposed by Metropolitan Police trials of facial recognition software. The trials were carried out at two sites in London, one in January and the second in February. Although 13,200 faces were scanned only one arrest was made. What a colossal waste of time and money.
The Little Otter nearly exploded this morning as she was reading the Times over breakfast. They’d published a story saying that now that there was a baby on the way the Mutt was going to be re-homed. She asked Bozzie if he had read the “totally crap” story which said the Mutt had wrecked the flat and shit all over it. His bowel control in the early days wasn’t the best, especially when he got over excited, but he’s better now. The Mutt and I might be slipping down the pecking order a bit when the baby arrives, but the Little Otter won’t dump him. It’s a big day today, it’s Rishi Nic-Nak’s first budget just 27 days after being given the job following the Cabinet reshuffle. Bozzie’s up first though, as it’s also PMQ’s. In what looks to me like a coordinated move, this morning the Bank of England cut the base interest rate by 0.5% to 0.25%, hoping to mitigate the financial shock of Covid-19 and make £190 Billion available for bank lending.
Shortly before the Budget it was announced that tomorrow’s football match between Manchester City and Arsenal is off as several Arsenal players have gone into self-isolation for a week. It seems that last week they played Olympiacos in Greece and some of the players met the Olympiacos owner, who has since tested positive for Covid-19. This is the first British sporting event to be cancelled because of Coronavirus, but if I was a betting cat, (which I’m not) I’d bet that it won’t be the last.
I watched Nic-Nak present his budget on one of the office TV’s. I thought he looked very nervous at the beginning but as he went on he got better and better and, by the end, looked a natural. He presented a budget that stole lots of Labour’s clothes with money for the NHS, rail and roads, help for Covid-19 victims and rates reductions for small businesses. Of course; you can’t please everyone and Steptoe had a moan, but that’s par for the course. In today’s Covid-19 news the numbers jumped again, this time by 83 taking the total up to 456 and deaths are up to 8. In addition, a British woman died in Bali, she was only 53 so is the youngest Brit to have died.
I’ve been listening hard at Breakfast to try to hear which Cabinet Minister has gone into self-isolation. Bozzie hasn’t let anything slip, it’s almost as if he suspects I’m listening. However, I did hear that someone called Craig Dillon has done so for the 2nd time after kissing “the Doris” at last Thursdays No 10 reception. He’d already been in self-isolation while awaiting test results after returning from China in January. How unlucky can you get! In early trading today the stock market has crashed again. This time it seems to have been down to the God King President. He announced he is banning all passenger flights from the Schengen area to stop the spread of Covid-19. The UK and Ireland are outside this area so are OK. The market is twitchy at the moment, it doesn’t take much to spook it.
Whinge went back to Canada today but first she had a 30-minute meeting with the 15 staff who ran her and Ginge’s office in Buckingham Palace. They’re all being made redundant, as the office is closing. It was reported she was in tears, I wonder if they were crocodile ones. Today’s Corona virus news is bad for my ghost writer Worthing Gooner. The Arsenal Manager, Mikel Arteta, has tested positive for the virus so all the players and lots of staff are self-isolating, their game at Brighton on Saturday has been postponed. In Australia, where he is filming, Tom Hanks and his wife have tested positive. In Canada Justin Trudeau’s wife has also tested positive, so he will be self-isolating with her.
Bozzie had another press conference this afternoon. He said the Covid-19 fight was moving on to the second stage – Delay. All efforts would now be directed at delaying the worst effects of what the World Health Organisation is now calling a Pandemic. He also advised 70 year olds not to go on cruise holidays. In Scotland they are banning gatherings of over 500 people. The Wee Krankie says the reason for this is to ease the burden on public services. Finally today, an overgrown “micro pig” had to be rescued by firemen from a flat as it had grown to 30 stone. It has been relocated to a farm where it has become best friends with a Cockerel! The way the Mutt eats he could get that fat, then he’d need rescuing.
Lots of things have been happening today; I’ll try to tell you about as many as my poor little brain can remember. At breakfast (Felix Chicken today!) Bozzie was talking to the Little Otter about Alex Salmond and his trial. He was saying how every woman seemed to tell a similar story about him being drunk and groping them, or worse. The Little Otter wondered if the jury would be influenced by the sheer number of similar complaints.
Barnier released a nearly 500 page document which is the EU’s first draft of a trade deal. The draft is of course based on what the EU wants and contains loads of things that we already said are unacceptable to the UK. These include sticking with EU rules on state aid, environment, labour and standards, all of which are to be overseen by the ECJ. They also want one huge deal while we want multiple smaller deals They’ve already been hinting that Covid-19 will mean an extension of the transition period beyond the year end. From what I’ve seen and heard Bozzie is not impressed in the slightest. There has been a continual stream of sporting events being cancelled. They include the first 4 F1 races, English Premiership and League football, Champions League football, Welsh and Scottish football, the Masters golf, International cricket, and the London Marathon (which has been moved to October). My friend Worthing Gooner is going to have nothing to watch on TV!
The number of Corona virus tests in the UK went up to 32,771 today, with 798 proving positive, the deaths toll is now 10. That’s another 208 positive tests today. The Governments Chief Medical Officer says there could be as many as 10,000 additional positive cases in the UK which are so mild they remain unrecorded. The World Health Organisation said that Europe is now the epicentre of the pandemic. Italy is by far the worst hit country in Europe, but Spain and France are also pretty bad. Italy today reported 17,660 positive cases 1266 deaths and 1439 recovered. Nadine Dorries has announced that her 84 year old mother has tested positive for Covid-19 but she appears to only have a mild dose. The unnamed Cabinet Minister who I mentioned earlier in the week has been named as Ann-Marie Trevelyan. She’s tested negative but is going to stay in isolation for the full 7 days as she was in contact with “the Doris”.
This afternoon Bozzie announced plans for the English local and Mayoral Elections to be postponed for a year. It will need legislation but I can’t see Labour opposing it. They are predicted to lose a hat full of seats and councils so I’m sure they will jump at the opportunity to put the elections off. The Corona virus is not bad news for everyone. I read that Sex Toy manufacturers Womanizer are claiming that worldwide sales have boomed. They put it down to the number of bored women in self-isolation. For example, Italian sales are up 60%, the US up 75% and the randy Canadians up 135%. Brits are more staid, UK sales are only up 13%.
An interesting breakfast discussion between Bozzie and the Little Otter this morning concerning if and when to cancel sporting events and mass gatherings. They agreed that cancelling sporting events was a no brainier, given that the most sporting bodies had already shut down their sports. Bozzie said that the experts didn’t recommend the closing down of mass gatherings on health grounds. However, many of these events need resources from the public services and that’s a different matter. From what I heard I expect them to be cancelled some time next week.
The world seems to have gone mad, with country after country closing borders. Even some of the EU countries are closing shared borders. People on 7 Jet 2 holiday flights from Britain to Spain had a nasty surprise today when Spain went into lockdown while the plane were in the air, forcing them to return to the UK. At least countries like the US and New Zealand gave a bit more warning.
Corona virus is still doing its worst, with the numbers surging again. 340 more cases today taking the total to 1140 with 10 more deaths. The deaths are once again all “vulnerable people”. A new born baby is among those who tested positive today. His mother is also positive and the virus is thought to have been passed during the birth. The papers report a twitter row between The Doris and Andrew Brigden’s wife. The Doris has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and is recovering at home. Brigden is self-isolating as he has symptoms but can’t get a test as the criteria has changed. Brigden blames The Doris, as she sat next to him in the tea room last week and didn’t tell the contact tracers. The Doris says she didn’t sit next to him, he was on a nearby table. The Brigden’s aren’t happy. Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway has a little problem. They normally finish the series with a bumper giveaway of a family holiday at Disney World Florida. However, the current Covid-19 fuss means that trips to the US are out so they’re looking for an alternative place. Personally, I wouldn’t want to go away on holiday anywhere at the moment.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be dictating to Worthing Gooner again next week, Corona virus permitting.
© WorthingGooner 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file