George Osborne nodded approvingly at the ATM in the House of Commons. As he had requested, it had been updated to dispense roubles as well as pounds.
It wasn’t easy trying to fit in being editor of the London Evening Standard along with his other jobs as £650,000-a-year adviser to BlackRock, Kissinger fellow, after-dinner speaker and chairman of the southern branch of the Northern Powerhouse, so every little helped. Now all he needed was a sack to cart away his 17m roubles. That should tide him over till the weekend.
But something was still niggling him. Wasn’t there one other job he’d forgotten about? Then it came to him. He was also MP for Tatton. He checked his watch. Hmm. He supposed he could squeeze in half an hour or so in the chamber to listen to an urgent question on the operation of the advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba), though he doubted whether he would hear much of interest. Still, no one could accuse him of not working tirelessly on his constituents’ behalf.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne saw it differently. He thought Osborne was taking the piss by accepting the editorship of the Evening Standard and that the public would conclude that everyone in the Commons was on the make. It was left to Ben Gummer, the dispensable minister for the Cabinet Office, to take the flak on behalf of the government.
“This is a matter of great importance for the prime minister,” he said, trying and failing to sound sincere. However, he was sorry to say…