Priti and her gang do like a selfie… and eating out on Rishi Sunak

Home secretary Priti Patel went to all the way to Dover yesterday to snap a selfie. She didn’t use her phone but dragged along a Home Office video person seemingly just out of video training school (or possibly not yet admitted).

Patel moved in and out of focus as she said things like “the fact of the matter is…” which is rarely a good sign. Especially as the “fact of the matter” (© any passing politician on the make) is that all she was doing was helping to create a distraction.

Don’t look at the God-awful mess we’re making off Covid-19, or all those millions we wasted on useless PPE, just throw up your hands in horror at all these migrants invading our shores.

“We are committed to tackling this issue and working with the French government to make this route completely unviable,” said Patel. She was wearing her frown instead of her customary smirk and whichever you find more acceptable is a matter of preference; feel free to tick “none of the above”.

No reporter was on hand as this was a self-published report free from damn pesky questions.

As the BBC’s Daniel Sandford tweeted: “In the end it is up to the UK public to decide whether they want to see their politicians at times of crisis talking in self-crafted promo videos like this, or in a genuine engagement with the broadcast media like ITN, Sky and BBC News.”

Oh, never mind, Daniel – at least we got to meet Dan O’Mahoney, the UK’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander. Yes, he really exists! Not so sure, however, about the threat being clandestine. It’s there for all to see and the numbers are tiny when set against the population of this prosperous country.

Which brings me to my favourite Twitter exchange of the morning…

“This is an issue of national security.”

Nigel Farage.

“This is an issue of national insecurity.”

George Peretz QC.

Government ministers do love these selfies. Chancellor Rishi Sunak churns out movie-style posters bearing slogans such as: “A PLAN FOR JOBS… Worth up to £30 billion.” All come adorned with his signature.

This motivated Boris Johnson to get in on the act, although his first attempt wasn’t deemed acceptable – “A PLAN SCRIBBLED ON THE BACK OF A FAG PACKET – worth whatever Dominic Cummings just told me…”

Sunak’s signature is scrawled all over the Eat Out to Help Out campaign running this month. While this initiative has been welcomed by diners and pandemic-stricken restaurants, it’s an odd fit with Johnson saying at the weekend that it was a “moral duty to get all children back in school”.

Sunak is handing out money-off coupons, and Johnson is saying we might have to close pubs and restaurants to balance the risks raised in opening schools.

Fair enough, schools are vital – and I write that as a father to two primary school teachers. It’s reasonable to argue that schools are ‘more important’ than pubs; but it also creates just another Covid-19 confusion. On minute the government shoves us into pubs and restaurants, the next they’re saying they might have to close again. A made-up mind would help.

Over on the BBC Today programme, health minister Edward Argar was wheeled out to defend Serco’s handling of the track and tracing contract. Full marks to presenter Nick Robinson for pointing out that before he became an MP, Argar was Serco’s PR chief.

Clearly, Argar should have interviewed himself on his own radio selfie to avoid such impertinence.

Elsewhere in his Today interview, Argar said: “ What you’re talking about is an extrapolation of a subset”.

If you know what the hell that means, you’re a lot smarter than me.

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