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DAN HODGES: Why Dishy Rishi is turning into Ruthless Rishi, the Iron Chancellor

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dan hodges why dishy rishi is turning into ruthless rishi the iron chancellor

Dishy Rishi is about to be put on furlough. ‘People have lost perspective,’ an ally of the Chancellor tells me. 

‘We’ve spent £350billion protecting the economy, but we’ve now reached the point where this isn’t even registering.

‘Someone said to him last week, ‘Why aren’t you doing anything for the theatre?’ We’ve given the theatres £1.6billion. Things are going to have to change.’

As Covid threatens to plunge Britain into a double-dip lockdown, Sunak is only too aware he cannot simply turn off the spending taps. 

But over the past few weeks, he’s become increasingly concerned that the country – and even some of his own colleagues – have started to believe there is an unlimited supply of public cash to be thrown at the coronavirus crisis.

33385950 8751789 image m 17 1600561990652

33385950 8751789 image m 17 1600561990652

As Covid threatens to plunge Britain into a double-dip lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is only too aware he cannot simply turn off the spending taps

‘We can’t chuck people to the wolves,’ a Minister explains, ‘but everyone is going to have to start to realise that over the medium term this sort of spending can’t continue. It’s not economically sustainable and it’s not politically sustainable.’

So as he prepares for a combined autumn Budget and spending review, Dishy Rishi is set to be replaced by Ruthless Rishi.

The Government will continue to provide support. But, as an ally frames it: ‘We’re going to get back to a situation where every pound we spend is going to have to be replaced somewhere else.’

To reassert fiscal prudence, Sunak had been eyeing the ‘triple lock’ on pensions introduced by David Cameron and George Osborne. But I understand Boris Johnson has baulked at unpicking such a totemic policy commitment.

So instead he will be looking for other significant – and politically explosive – savings. First there will be a major squeeze on public-sector pay.

‘It just wouldn’t be right if 16 per cent of the workforce were seeing big pay increases just at the time when everyone else in the economy is having to tighten their belts,’ a Minister explains.

There will also be a freeze on welfare. Ministers have been working on a worst-case scenario of four million unemployed as the existing levels of support for businesses and workers begins to unwind.

Some remain hopeful that a jobs apocalypse on this scale can be averted.

But they believe that whatever final toll Covid wreaks on employment, there is no scope – or public appetite – for an uprating of individual benefits.

And I’m told there’s significant Treasury pushback on Boris’s cherished Operation Moonshot – or Operation Moonf***, as some of the more hard-bitten Treasury civil servants have started branding it.

The Chancellor is said to be supportive of investment on health measures that can get Britain safely back to work.

But he is resisting releasing huge amounts of public money on what could turn out to be nothing more than a bottomless petri dish, until tried and tested technology is available to support the programme.

The Chancellor believes what is needed is an end to Covid-inspired fiscal complacency. Dishy Rishi has been sent home. It's now Ruthless Rishi who's sitting behind the Chancellor's desk

The Chancellor believes what is needed is an end to Covid-inspired fiscal complacency. Dishy Rishi has been sent home. It's now Ruthless Rishi who's sitting behind the Chancellor's desk

The Chancellor believes what is needed is an end to Covid-inspired fiscal complacency. Dishy Rishi has been sent home. It’s now Ruthless Rishi who’s sitting behind the Chancellor’s desk

Over the past few months, Sunak’s growing legion of fans on the Tory backbenches have come to view him as something of a fiscal magician – a swirl of the cape and flourish of the wand, and their constituents’ problems vanish in a puff of smoke.

But even though he is aware there will inevitably be damage to his personal brand, he is said by friends to have decided it’s time to present his colleagues with some harsh economic truths.

‘This Dishy Rishi stuff has got a bit out of hand,’ an ally concedes. ‘We’re facing a serious crisis. And were going to need to introduce a note of reality into all this.’

This chimes in part with the Chancellor’s own personal ideology. As a 15-year-old, he used to do the accounts in his mother’s pharmacy. ‘He’s been balancing the books since he was a teenager,’ says a friend.

He also spent the summer flicking through Nigel Lawson’s memoirs.

‘He tells me he’s a Lawsonian,’ one MP tells me. ‘He’s very hot on fiscal responsibility.’

An example of this is Sunak’s growing alarm at the UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio, which now exceeds 100 per cent.

‘Rishi is very, very worried about how vulnerable this makes us to even small variations in interest rates,’ a Minister reveals. ‘He thinks we’re in a very precarious position.’

But there is also a political calculation behind the Chancellor’s desire to damp down expectations that Britain can painlessly spend its way out of the Covid crisis.

Sunak is one of a growing number of Tory MPs who are becoming worried there is insufficient ‘blue water’ between them and Keir Starmer’s increasingly effective Labour Opposition.

‘There is not enough fiscal demarcation between us and Starmer,’ a Sunak supporter says. ‘We’re Conservatives. We’re going to have to draw a much clearer line between ourselves and Labour on the economy and spending.’

All of which is why Sunak has begun a major charm offensive of Tory backbenchers.

Sunak had been eyeing the 'triple lock' on pensions introduced by David Cameron and George Osborne. But Boris Johnson has baulked at unpicking such a totemic policy commitment

Sunak had been eyeing the 'triple lock' on pensions introduced by David Cameron and George Osborne. But Boris Johnson has baulked at unpicking such a totemic policy commitment

Sunak had been eyeing the ‘triple lock’ on pensions introduced by David Cameron and George Osborne. But Boris Johnson has baulked at unpicking such a totemic policy commitment

Last week saw the growing discontent at Boris’s faltering leadership explode into open revolt over the statement that No 10 was preparing to break international law to kick-start the Brexit negotiations. 

‘I don’t mind dying in the ditch over Brexit,’ one exasperated MP tells me, ‘but I do expect No 10 to at least dig me the ditch before the bullets start flying.’

Rishi Sunak is going to spend the next few weeks rolling up his sleeves, and digging in with his colleagues.

He knows that hard times are coming. That the crushing burden of Covid-19 on the UK economy can no longer be resisted by one-off loans and eye-catching restaurant discounts. And that when economic gravity finally reasserts itself, there will be a political backlash.

Some of his opponents think there is no place for him to hide.

‘We don’t think we’ll be fighting Boris at the next Election,’ one of Keir Starmer’s aides told me a few weeks ago, ‘but I’m not sure we’re going to be facing Rishi either. He’s very popular now, but let’s see how popular he is when the furlough scheme is taken away.’

But it isn’t popularity the Chancellor craves at the moment. He believes what is needed is an end to Covid-inspired fiscal complacency.

Dishy Rishi has been sent home. It’s now Ruthless Rishi who’s sitting behind the Chancellor’s desk.

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70 artworks are damaged in mysterious ‘hushed up’ attack at German museum

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70 artworks are damaged in mysterious hushed up attack at german museum

Vandals have damaged more than 70 artworks and artifacts at some of Berlin‘s most renowned museums in a targeted attack that was kept quiet by authorities for more than two weeks.

Paintings, stone sculptures and sarcophagi at three institutions on the German capital’s UNESCO-listed Museum Island were sprayed with an ‘oily liquid’ which left visible stains, Berlin police have said.

The Pergamon Museum, Neues Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie were all targeted with local media calling the episode ‘one of the biggest attacks on art and antiquities in German post-war history’.

It comes just weeks after a political activist spread outlandish conspiracy theories about the institutions and branded the Pergamon as the centre of a ‘global satanist and corona criminal scene’ where ‘they sacrifice humans at night and abuse children’. 

Paintings, stone sculptures and sarcophagi at three institutions on the German capital's UNESCO-listed Museum Island were sprayed with an 'oily liquid' which left visible stains (damaged sarcophagus of Prophet Ahmose at the Neues Museum pictured)

Paintings, stone sculptures and sarcophagi at three institutions on the German capital's UNESCO-listed Museum Island were sprayed with an 'oily liquid' which left visible stains (damaged sarcophagus of Prophet Ahmose at the Neues Museum pictured)

Paintings, stone sculptures and sarcophagi at three institutions on the German capital’s UNESCO-listed Museum Island were sprayed with an ‘oily liquid’ which left visible stains (damaged sarcophagus of Prophet Ahmose at the Neues Museum pictured)

Friederike Seyfried, director of the Neues Museum, points to the damage caused by an 'oily liquid' leaving visible stains on exhibits in the Egyptian

Friederike Seyfried, director of the Neues Museum, points to the damage caused by an 'oily liquid' leaving visible stains on exhibits in the Egyptian

Friederike Seyfried, director of the Neues Museum, points to the damage caused by an ‘oily liquid’ leaving visible stains on exhibits in the Egyptian

More than 70 artworks and artifacts were damaged at three of Berlin's most renowned museums - the Pergamon Museum, Neues Museum (left) and Alte Nationalgalerie (right) - in a targeted attack that was kept quiet by authorities for more than two weeks

More than 70 artworks and artifacts were damaged at three of Berlin's most renowned museums - the Pergamon Museum, Neues Museum (left) and Alte Nationalgalerie (right) - in a targeted attack that was kept quiet by authorities for more than two weeks

More than 70 artworks and artifacts were damaged at three of Berlin’s most renowned museums – the Pergamon Museum, Neues Museum (left) and Alte Nationalgalerie (right) – in a targeted attack that was kept quiet by authorities for more than two weeks

Police believe the vandalism occurred on October 3, Germany Unity Day, during opening hours at the museums. 

‘The state criminal investigation office of the Berlin police has opened a probe over property damage to artworks and artifacts on display,’ spokesman Martin Dams said in an emailed statement. 

Dams did not say why neither the museums nor the police had communicated earlier about the attack, which was first reported late Tuesday in German media.

He also did not provide any information about a possible motive.

But a report by Die Zeit and public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk noted that Attila Hildmann, an activist who has railed against government measures to contain the coronavirus, had spread outlandish conspiracy theories about the Museum Island in August and September.

Using his Telegram channel, Hildmann claimed the Pergamon Museum, which has been closed for part of the summer due to the pandemic, held the ‘throne of Satan’.

He said the institution was the centre of a ‘global satanist and corona criminal scene’ where ‘they sacrifice humans at night and abuse children’, in an echo of the international QAnon conspiracy movement.

Activist Attila Hildmann (pictured during a rally against the government's coronavirus restrictions) had spread outlandish conspiracy theories about the Museum Island in August and September

Activist Attila Hildmann (pictured during a rally against the government's coronavirus restrictions) had spread outlandish conspiracy theories about the Museum Island in August and September

Activist Attila Hildmann (pictured during a rally against the government’s coronavirus restrictions) had spread outlandish conspiracy theories about the Museum Island in August and September

Hildmann branded the Pergamon Museum (pictured) as the centre of a 'global satanist and corona criminal scene' where 'they sacrifice humans at night and abuse children'

Hildmann branded the Pergamon Museum (pictured) as the centre of a 'global satanist and corona criminal scene' where 'they sacrifice humans at night and abuse children'

Hildmann branded the Pergamon Museum (pictured) as the centre of a ‘global satanist and corona criminal scene’ where ‘they sacrifice humans at night and abuse children’

Berlin daily Tagesspiegel said that museum visitors who had booked tickets for October 3 had been contacted by police to ask for help with the investigation.

Berlin’s Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to precious artifacts including a legendary bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and Babylon’s Ishtar Gate.

It attracts around three million visitors each year and is undergoing a major renovation and expansion.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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South Shields football team hits back at Wetherspoons for reporting them for breaking Covid rules

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south shields football team hits back at wetherspoons for reporting them for breaking covid rules

An amateur football team has hit back at Wetherspoons staff for reporting them to police for breaking Tier 2 Covid rules after ‘taking their money and letting them drink outside’.

Josh Robertson, 26, said he was among the players fined for gathering at The Wouldhave in South Shields after a match on Sunday.

They were mid-pint when a concerned staff member challenged them, only to be told by the men they were from the same household.

But the worker called police to report a breach of the coronavirus regulations and officers issued the group with fines.

Mr Robertson, a painter, has rejected the story told by Northumbria Police, claiming the team never said they lived in the same house.

Josh Robertson (centre) said he was among those caught as his side drank at The Wouldhave Wetherspoon in South Shields after a match on Sunday. It is not clear if the two men picture were also there

Josh Robertson (centre) said he was among those caught as his side drank at The Wouldhave Wetherspoon in South Shields after a match on Sunday. It is not clear if the two men picture were also there

Josh Robertson (centre) said he was among those caught as his side drank at The Wouldhave Wetherspoon in South Shields after a match on Sunday. It is not clear if the two men picture were also there

They were mid-pint when a concerned staff member at the pub (pictured) challenged them, only to be told by the men they were from the same household

They were mid-pint when a concerned staff member at the pub (pictured) challenged them, only to be told by the men they were from the same household

They were mid-pint when a concerned staff member at the pub (pictured) challenged them, only to be told by the men they were from the same household

He wrote: ‘We didn’t get challenged or anything no-one said anything and no-one said we all lived together. What we gonna say we all lived in the big brother house like?

‘We went in and were told to sit on tables of four which we did and eight of them were outside in the beer garden when the fines were issued.

‘If they were at risk of getting a fine why didn’t they tell us to leave or refuse entry before letting us sit there and order drinks before phoning the police.’

He added: ‘But I forgot ya can only get the disease in a pub and not on a football pitch where 22 people are playing a contact sport.’

South Tyneside is currently under Tier 2 restrictions meaning residents cannot socialise with people from other households in any indoor setting.

Mr Robertson, 26, has rejected the story told by Northumbria Police and the pub, claiming the group never said they lived in the same house

Mr Robertson, 26, has rejected the story told by Northumbria Police and the pub, claiming the group never said they lived in the same house

Mr Robertson, 26, has rejected the story told by Northumbria Police and the pub, claiming the group never said they lived in the same house

Social media users slammed Mr Robertson under a police Facebook post on Wednesday.

One wrote: ‘Suck it up. Because the sport you love will.be closed again if cases don’t start going down.

Another added: ‘Stick to the rules!! COVID spreader.’

Chief superintendent Janice Hutton, of Northumbria Police, said: ‘This group showed a flagrant disregard for the rules which are in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

‘Actions like this undermine the efforts being made by the majority of others in order to protect themselves, their family, friends and wider communities.

‘We will continue to work closely with our communities and offer advice to people who have mistakenly broken the restrictions.

‘However, as we have made clear, where individuals are choosing to ignore the measures in place, we are committed to taking enforcement action to protect our communities.’

The force declined to name the football team, or the pub.

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34656828 8863173 image a 23 1603279214574

 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Man is injured and child rescued after a ‘gas explosion’ rips through shop in west London

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man is injured and child rescued after a gas explosion rips through shop in west london

A man has been left injured and a child was rescued after a suspected gas explosion ripped through a shop in west London.

Video footage of the blast was posted on social media showing firefighters climbing inside the building to evacuate a person trapped inside a flat on the top floor.

The explosion happened at a barbers and phone shop on King Street in Ealing around 6.20am this morning. 

A man has been left injured and a child was rescued after a suspected gas explosion ripped through a shop in Ealing, west London

A man has been left injured and a child was rescued after a suspected gas explosion ripped through a shop in Ealing, west London

A man has been left injured and a child was rescued after a suspected gas explosion ripped through a shop in Ealing, west London

London Fire Brigade confirmed they had rescued four adults and a child from the wreckage.  

A further two children and 16 residents were also evacuated from the scene.

The owner of the mobile phone shop Jatinder Singh, 36, was given the devastating news by a neighbour before heading to the scene.

He said Dr Phone was completely destroyed by the explosion and said he was shocked to see the caranage on arrival. 

 ‘It’s an absolute mess,’ Mr Singh told the Standard.

‘I’m not sure what happened, I’m in shock. My landlord is in there now looking he is in shock too. I don’t know if anyone was hurt or who was living upstairs. There is too much I have lost in there.’

He added: ‘I locked up my shop as usual last night and didn’t think anything was wrong. Then I got a phone call from a neighbour to get down here that my shop was totally destroyed.

‘I’m ok, I’m not hurt. The police have a special dog team and are keeping everyone away.’

Fire investigation officers have cordoned off the King Street area as they start to piece together what happened.   

The explosion happened at a barbers and phone shop on King Street in Ealing around 6.20am this morning

The explosion happened at a barbers and phone shop on King Street in Ealing around 6.20am this morning

The explosion happened at a barbers and phone shop on King Street in Ealing around 6.20am this morning

A local business owner said: ‘There was a huge bang like an explosion. My shop shook. We hear there are injuries… it’s a shock to us all.’

Another said: ‘We have been told a gas canister exploded. There are police and firefighters everywhere. We are hoping everyone we know there is ok. It’s a very close knit community.’  

As they carried out their investigation, the London Fire Brigade explained there has been a structural collapse of the building which involved a shop with flats above.

The London Fire Brigade explained there had been a structural collapse of the building which involved a shop with flats above

The London Fire Brigade explained there had been a structural collapse of the building which involved a shop with flats above

The London Fire Brigade explained there had been a structural collapse of the building which involved a shop with flats above

Station Commander Alan Brand, who is at the scene said: ‘Four adults and one child were rescued at the rear of the property by firefighters using a ladder. 

‘A further fourteen adults and two children self evacuated from surrounding properties. Specialist crews are searching the building for anyone else that may be involved.

‘This is an on going operation and I would ask that people avoid the area if possible.’

Around 40 firefighters Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations are at the scene.

Some 40 firefighters from Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations rushed to  the scene

Some 40 firefighters from Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations rushed to  the scene

Some 40 firefighters from Southall, Hayes, Heston, Ealing and Feltham fire stations rushed to  the scene

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said they were not treating the explosion as suspicious.

He added: ‘A large explosion was found to have taken place inside a shop. One man was found injured. Road closures have been put in place and nearby residents have been evacuated.’

‘At this early stage, it is believed to be a gas explosion and is not being treated as suspicious.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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