Stand aside, everyone: the Conservative cowboy builders are back on the job

Stand aside, everyone: the Conservative cowboy builders are back on the job

“We will double down on levelling up … We will invest … to fuel the animal spirits … We will not just bounce back, we will bounce forward.” Thus gibbered Boris Johnson this morning, sounding exactly like Franklin D Roosevelt shortly after the latter’s massive intracerebral haemorrhage. Or, as the prime minister put it of his “new deal” spending plans to restart the UK economy after coronavirus, announced today in Dudley: “it sounds positively Rooseveltian.” I’m not sure that’s for you to say, old chap. Then again, Johnson is one of those falsely modest people who tells you what they’re like, rather than waiting for you to alight on the judgment yourself. You know the type. “I’m such a giver”; “I guess you’d call me Rooseveltian”; “I am so random, I can’t believe I just did that!”; “I work as a Chris Hemsworth lookalike. Covering the Uxbridge area, but I will travel to Hayes for the right job.” Johnson went on to pledge that his would be a government that “puts its arms around people at a time of crisis”. But which people? For much of the past week the papers have featured pictures of him with his arm around Richard Desmond. This is the business of Johnson’s housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, rushing through a decision on a £1bn property deal by Desmond to avoid the tycoon having to make a £40m payment under the community infrastructure levy (then having to quash the decision after he admitted it was unlawful ...
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