….and today I couldn't help over-hearing a private conversation between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
PM: I've always been clear that I want to maintain our great nation's finances in superb condition...so that those Europeans cannot gloat when we leave them, without their stupid deal. Now, give me a brief summary of the current situation
PM: Get on with it, man!
CE: Certainly, Prime Minister. Our National Debt is at this moment £2.13 trillion.
CE: Second only in size to that of the U.S.
PM: Great Heavens! When did that happen?
CE: Over many years. Every government we've had has just borrowed more and more.
PM: Can't we pay it down somehow?
CE: Unfortunately no. Our current bank balance is actually £114 billion in the red.
PM: What! Are you sure? Have you done your sums right?
CE: Yes, Prime Minister. I have.
PM: Well. They won't increase any further as long as I'm Prime Minister.
CE: Um. They already have.
CE: We've spent a great deal of money fighting Covid. In fact, so far, we've spent £220 billion.
PM: What? Ridiculous!
CE: And we've announced we'll be spending another £100 billion at least.
CE: It might not reach £400 billion in total, but it would be safe to assume so,
PM: £400 billion? How on earth...
CE: We discussed it briefly over breakfast – once in May and again in June. I gave you summaries of the situation as you were in a hurry to see your fiancee.
PM: H'm. Well! Something must be done! You should know what to do. You're the Chancellor!
CE: It's very difficult, Prime Minister. We can't put up income tax or VAT.
PM: Why on earth not?
CE: We said we would never do that. In our election manifesto.
PM: Oh, fiddle. We'll just forget that. We'll put the taxes up at the same time as we announce we'll be giving more money to the NHS.
CE: But we haven't got any money left to give to the NHS.
PM: Don't be naïve. It will be a great story for our media, but with undefined dates.
CE: Oh, I see. But there is another problem....
PM: Really? Then make it snappy, or I'll be late for my next photo-op. A really good one. Eating a waffle outside Number Ten.
CE: A waffle! Isn't there a rather dangerous connotation?
PM: It will show that I'm a man of the people. And after that I'm off on a short holiday to Northern Ireland. We'll probably take the bike.
CE: Um, the next problem, Prime Minister, is very serious. We are soon going to be unable to pay our debts to the banks and foreign governments that we use now. However, I have contacted the bank your donor recommended. The Sino-Arabian Bank. They seem quite ready to give us a mortgage.
PM: Excellent! Do it! But 'timeo Chinkies ut dona ferentes,' eh!
CE: I'm sorry. What was that?