‘The Nose in Search of a Bum’ sniffs out new government job

Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the losers and losers in today’s government reshuffle

Kwartenged: Chris Philp survived his boss’s sacking, but has been shunted out of the Treasury after a record-breaking 38 days

Calls to Downing Street sources this afternoon have failed to discover anyone prepared to offer an on-the-record denial that, when he got the call from the Prime Minister to become Britain’s fourth Chancellor of the Exchequer in four months, Jeremy Hunt did not say, “And I want him out of the Treasury.”

So it was that Chris Philp, Croydon South’s Tory MP, finally made a piece of British political history, as the shortest-lasting Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Philp was in the role just 38 days, and this afternoon was clearing his desk, including his prized “I love Kwasi” mug (he got it in August, to replace the “I love Sajid” mug that somehow got broken), as he was shoved sideways to the non-job of Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Even for Thick Lizzy Truss, it seems, a useful idiot has their uses…

Philp’s last parliamentary appearance had been in the Commons chamber on Wednesday, when he was selected to answer a tricky question about sums and adding up. The occasion prompted John Crace, the Grauniad’s sketch writer, to pen a line which will surely now stick with Croydon’s Tory MP for the rest of his career (whatever there is left of it).

Crace, who has long had the measure of Philp, wrote of PMQs: “Truss left the chamber to cries of ‘more’ from Labour and widespread indifference from her own side. That was the closest to enthusiasm the Tory benches could manage. She left behind the creepy Chris Philp – the Nose in Search of a Bum – to answer an urgent question on why the economy was even worse on Wednesday than it had been on Tuesday. The Labour benches were full. The government’s were nearly empty. Almost as if the Tories can’t bear to revisit the scene of the crime.”

The Nose in Search of a Bum.

Sinking ship: even right-wing political publications turned on Truss

With the markets tanking, the pound in a nose-dive again and the country’s reputation in tatters, Truss’s sacking of KamiKwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor can only be the beginning of the end of financial chaos that is of her and her government’s own making.

It has come to a pretty pass when we can think back a few years, to the heady days of stability and competence under a Chancellor as thoroughly boring as… Philip Hammond.

Today, Hammond joined the pile-on over the havoc caused by Truss, Kwarteng and, yes, Philp.

Referring to the Tory Party, Hammond said, “I’m afraid we have thrown away years and years of painstaking work to build and maintain a reputation as a party of fiscal discipline and competence in government.”

Jeremy Corbyn (remember him?) was more scathing. “It doesn’t matter how many Chancellors they get through,” he tweeted, “this Tory government is rotten to its very core.”

And Philp’s former parliamentary colleague, “Lord” Gavin Barwell, had this to say: “Sacking Kwasi Kwarteng only makes sense if [there’s a] big change in policy. Even then, unlikely to shift public opinion enough to save the PM, but it was her last option.”

And there was a policy change, announced by Truss at her afternoon press conference, with the scrapping of her flagship policy of a Corporation Tax cut which Kwarteng had announced in the Mini-Budget just three weeks ago.

The value of government bonds, which plunged after the Mini-Budget, and other state assets picked up on the markets almost immediately. But as one economist warned, “There is a bit of a risk that if we have only a partial U-turn then potentially the markets will come under pressure again next week,” said ING’s James Smith.

Truss’s government will be on the brink right through until the markets re-open on Monday morning.

Lucky Hunt: Britain’s fourth Chancellor in four months

“For now the Prime Minister has won breathing space, but the financial markets are highly sensitive and anything less than a co-operative approach with the Bank of England, the Office of Budget Responsibility and international institutions could cause fresh instability,” predicted City analyst Susannah Streeter, of Hargreaves Lansdown.

Andrew Megson, the CEO of My Pension Expert, told Inside Croydon, “Forget any political point-scoring or personal agendas, this whole episode – from the Mini-Budget on 23 September through to today’s unceremonious dismissal of the Chancellor – has set Britain back at a time when clear, decisive action was needed.

“People are crying out for clarity, stability and a little calm across the financial markets. If these things cannot be delivered, and quickly, the calls for a change of government will surely become too loud to ignore.”

Meanwhile, Hunt, the MP for South West Surrey and twice a loser in Tory leadership contests, moves into No11 Downing Street.

Edward Argar (who?), who was the Paymaster General, takes over as Chief Secretary to the Treasury from Philp.

The constituents of Croydon South, meanwhile, seem set to have to endure further ignominy as their MP continues to be wheeled out for broadcast sessions to defend the indefensible in what Crace describes as the “Trussterfuck” of a government.

Sad reminder: Chris Philp’s Twitter profile, at 5pm tonight, still showing him as having a prestigious job at the Treasury

But maybe even for someone apparently as thick-skinned as Philp, there is a sense that it’s all becoming a bit too much even for the Croydon SouthMP. By 5pm today, his Twitter profile was still saying he had a prestigious job at the Treasury.

Indeed, his last tweet was on Wednesday, and he even managed to get that wrong, as he proclaimed “Hood news”. Philp’s not the kind to “get down with the youth”.

Maybe “The Nose in Search of a Bum” line had cut to the quick.

Some suggested that Philp should be nominated for a peerage – by Keith Starmer, for services to the Labour Party. For it is certain that Philp, Kwarteng and Truss between them have done more to revive Labour’s fortunes than Starmer himself.

And while Thick Lizzy remains in charge, there are those in Croydon South who tonight will be wondering what’s the point in being Chris Philp in a world where there’s no safe Tory seats?

Read more: A bad week for Tory MP just got very much worse for Croydon
Read more: ‘Rabbit hutch’ flats and the Chief Secretary: Philp’s conflicts

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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19 Responses to ‘The Nose in Search of a Bum’ sniffs out new government job

  1. You might think we and he have got off lightly.

    At lunchtime today, Guido had him in the medium-length list to replace Kwarteng, which really would have resulted in even more of an omnishambles than we have already, had it come to pass.

  2. Frances Coats says:

    Such an excellent article – proof that local news is still vital and the journalists higher quality than the cloud-cuckoo-land of the red tops.

  3. Stewart MacArthur says:

    I don’t like him either but thats a poor headline

  4. Emma Birkett says:

    A truly excellent, funny and well-written article. Local journalism at its best. Anyone who has ever taken the NCTJ exam knows that all news is local.

  5. Lewis White says:

    It is amazing that anyone would want to start the climb on the greasy pole of politics.

    Politicians of all parties are widely pilloried, too often justifiably so, but if we are not careful, people with ideals (what ever their wealth or lack of it) will not have the energy and courage to enter the political arena, leaving it to super rich, the opportunists and the own-nest featherers.

    And that will not just be sad, but the end of democracy as we have enjoyed it.

    Nothing to do with Punch and Judy politics (I love it!)

    What I referring to is standards ….. and sadly, the main parties have an appalling record of abolishing useful and impartial institutions :-
    District Auditor
    Standards Board for Engand
    Audit Commission

    Hearing Jacob Rees Mogg on Radio 4’s Today programme, when he was being quizzed by the superb presenter journalist Mishal Husain, he made clear his annoyance of her efficacy, accusing her of “jumping to conclusions” and failing to “[meet] the BBC requirement for impartiality.”

    No doubt, he and many politicians of all parties would like to disempower/ hobble / get rid of the Nation’s Broadcaster and its best presenters who can so effectively expose their hypocracy and behaviour.

    Oh… and now, in all probability, some will be planning to get rid of another body that amazingly still exists–the Office for Budget Responsibility.

    Would Keir Starmer’s Labour bring back those institutions which held Power to account so effectively? Will it ?

  6. Richard Holland says:

    Croydon South deserves so much better than Chris Philp. He only serves himself and to hell with everyone else. Great article, well written and very funny… because it’s true.

  7. Great piece, thanks. But It seems the tide of local opinion is turning against Labour nationally, towards the Tories. Look at what happened this week in Leicester, of all places, where Labour were relegated to third place behind the Greens in a by-election. I predict that the once-great Labour party, now led by the Human Bollard, will fail miserably, despite the Tories’ litany of own goals.

    • We predicted when the Sleepy Hollow ward by-election was called that the Tories would get 50per cent of the vote (on a verrry low turnout). People haven’t forgotten what Newman and Butler did to the council.

    • Nick Davies says:

      The Leicester council by-election was nothing to do with national issues and everything to do with the recent unrest in the area. The Labour candidate allegedly has links to Modi’s BJP and toxic to those who don’t share Hindu nationalist opinions, which is most people.

  8. Sarah Bird says:

    totally agree . Does he even hold a surgery? I know several people who have tried to obtain an appointment . all serious concerns

  9. Richard Hancock says:

    Wonderfully researched and written article. Bravo! (Don’t live in Croydon, but stumbled across this excellent piece by Googling news articles on Mr Philp.)

  10. Chris Flynn says:

    So the man criticising Croydon Council’s financial management has further demonstrated his own competences.

  11. Ian Kierans says:

    Great article and what a record to obtain.
    Strangely I am wondering if someone did a performance review on him and moved him to the post most suitable for his talents. Perhaps a supportive arm around the shoulders? O.K perhaps not, as Mr Hunt the (insert rhyming expletive) when Health Secretary was not known for that kind of empathy!.I am sure there are many in the Health Service who are seeking preventative treatment after Friday’s news!

    No, I cannot think of any MP more suited to taking shaftings in public that a number of other slithery creatures avoid.

    The Paymaster General is a Ministerial level appointment but without any actual job to do. Even the accounts are done by the Assistant. In short it is a role to just be wheeled out to make announcements as required.

    Someone realised Ms Truss and Co have absolutely not a sausage of foresight of the impacts of their utterance and determined that the Cabinet as a whole needed a mouthpiece to take the flak – one with a ready made orifice already plug trained to take the five digit controller.

    Now we already know how good Mr Philp is doing that.

  12. Frank B says:

    Philip doesn’t hold the record for being Chief Secretary to the Treasury the shortest. David Laws infamously held the role for only 17 days.

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