HENRY DEEDES watches Work and Pensions Secretary on GMB01/25/2021
Therese Coffey longed to be somewhere less hostile… like Raqqa: HENRY DEEDES watches Work and Pensions Secretary’s toe-curling GMB row with Piers Morgan
Over the past few months, a climate of fear has been brewing at the heart of Government. Behind closed doors in Whitehall and Westminster, ministers are said to be gripped by a sense of panic.
But this has nothing to do with the pandemic, or with viral mutations arriving here from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or the South African savannahs.
Instead, it revolves around Downing Street’s decision to submit ministers for interview once more on Good Morning Britain – with a certain Piers Morgan.
It follows a ministerial boycott of the ITV flagship which began last summer – allegedly instigated by Boris’s top aide, Dominic Cummings. It was something that Piers took personally and since normal service was resumed in November – after Cummings departed No 10 – he’s been devouring government officials the way a salivating schnauzer might feast upon a postman’s bared ankle.
Over the past few months, a climate of fear has been brewing at the heart of Government. It revolves around Downing Street’s decision to submit ministers for interview once more on Good Morning Britain – with a certain Piers Morgan
Yesterday, it was Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey’s turn.
As soon as Miss Coffey appeared over the video link, all weary-eyed and slouchy, you could see she was in a glum mood. How she longed to be somewhere else, somewhere less hostile. Like the chiropodist. Or war-torn Raqqa.
Pier’s co-host Susanna Reid glared at her guest with faux concern. She wanted to know when schools would reopen. Coffey frowned. She’d hoped to discuss her department’s Kickstart scheme to get young people into to work.
Huffily she told Reid that she couldn’t give her a date as discussions within Government were ongoing. Google translation: ‘Get that pillock Gavin Williamson on here and ask him.’
Piers was hovering impatiently, wriggling in his seat, shifting his weight from one side to the other.
A middle-weight boxer, bouncing up and down on his tippy toes, desperate for the ‘ding ding’ of the ref’s bell, so he could get right in there and start throwing haymakers left, right and centre. Every now and again, he took a little slurp from his mug. Pumpkin-spiced latte, perhaps. Or more likely Castrol GTX.
He asked Coffey whether the Government had been properly prepared for coronavirus when it first reared its ugly head to the world this time last time year.
Coffey said they’d been well prepared for ‘a more traditional’ type of flu. Ruddy virus. Always moving the goal posts. When is it going to play by the rules?
Piers moved on to the UK’s high death toll, pointing to New Zealand where infection rates are almost zero. Of course, the mere mention of death rates should have set Ground Proximity Warning Alerts flashing inside Coffey’s head. Danger! Too low! Pull Up! Pull Up!
As soon as Miss Coffey appeared over the video link, all weary-eyed and slouchy, you could see she was in a glum mood
Instead, she gulped down the Morgan bait and muttered something about the impact of the virus had on all those elderly and obese people around the country.
Piers’s eyes swelled. Bingo!
‘Oh, so we’re all too old and too fat,’ he scoffed.
Coffey grappled the controls forlornly. ‘I think that’s very insulting what you just said,’ she spluttered.
‘You just said it!’ yelled back Piers. The mood had turned vinegary. Faced with no other option, La Coffey began scrambling for the ejector seat button.
‘I’m, sorry Piers. I’m going to another broadcast interview,’ she announced.
Faced with a guest about to storm out, some interviewers might beat a retreat. Shoot the cuffs and apply the charm. There, there, let’s not be hasty.
Not Piersy. Instead, he began goading Coffey for avoiding him these past eight months.
‘You’ve already had 20 minutes of my time,’ Coffey snapped.
Well, 13 minutes by my stopwatch. And with one outstret-ched arm toward the computer screen, zoik!
The minister vanished. ‘Wow, OK!’ said Piers, his voice affecting the sort of wounded pride of someone who’s just had their offer of assistance to a flailing enemy thrown back in their face.
Hours later, Coffey was in the Commons to answer Work and Pension questions. She looked forlorn. Shaken.
Watching her at the despatch box, she reminded me of a passenger disembarking gingerly down the gangway of a cruise liner following a particularly violent passage across the Bay of Biscay.
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