Last week, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, told us via Twitter that he would be “speaking to industry leaders and experts to hear how they’ve reacted to the pandemic” over the coming weeks.
So in terms of the calibre of “industry leaders”, you can see that things started quite well: Dishy Rishi’s first Zoom call was with chef, restauranteur and shouty reality show host Gordon Ramsay. Some, though, particularly those in the restaurant industry, felt the call was out of touch and said it was a “PR stunt”, and pointed out that Ramsay explaining how you can just launch a TV show during lockdown might be a little . . . tone-deaf.
You can watch the full interview between the two here if you have a penchant for cringe-TV (you’d be doing the chancellor a favour given it’s had fewer than 2,500 views so far):
Our Rishi starts by telling Gordon he is feeling FANTASTIC and is SUPER-EXCITED to see him, really setting the tone you’d want for a sombre conversation about the UK’s struggling hospitality industry. He ends by saying: “It’s been a real treat, and I’m looking forward to the game show, and hopefully I’ll get to come and see you at some point in one of the restaurants.”
Before this crucial Zoom call — which we imagine will really inform the Chancellor’s thinking in the critical months ahead — he had a Zoom call with another big gun: Euan Blair. What’s that you say — never ‘eard of him? Well he’s Tony and Cherie’s heir apparent, who according to the Daily Mail is now worth £73m after the start-up he founded, Multiverse, an ed-tech start-up that wants to “empower a new generation of pioneers to explore the many different paths to a successful and fulfilling career”, was valued at $200m.
Blair, who was deputy head boy at the prestigious London Oratory school, has a master’s degree from Yale, and got an internship in the US Congress before going into investment banking at JP Morgan, used the call to urge young jobless people to consider taking up apprenticeships. Again, we can’t help feeling that someone other than the multimillionaire son of a multimillionaire former prime minister might have had a deeper understanding of what it means to be young and out of work.
Today, at 3pm, our Dishy Rishi is going to be Zooming with an Alphaville fave: a certain lingerie-entrepreneur-turned-Tory-peer-and-shopping-channel-icon who recently married billionaire Doug Barrowman. Yes that’s right, none other than our very own Lady Michelle Mone of Mayfair OBE!
Baroness Mone made the announcement via Twitter (this reporter has been blocked by her but luckily we have informants who alert us to such things):
Now this, of course, is a woman who has a lot of experience in business. The start-up tsar is, according to a since deleted tweet of hers, “one of the biggest experts in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain”. On that note, we wonder how her crypto project EQUI is going? The website still says it is COMING SOON. What about her “£250m luxury property development in Dubai that will sell apartments in bitcoin, the digital currency”? Well it seems like the development has been having problems. The website says that it is due for completion in . . . Q4 2019, and there not been any updates since then. (Apart from Dubai itself being added to the UK travel red list, that is.)
We’re looking forward to seeing how the call goes. Perhaps she will lobby Rishi to have Dubai removed from the red list? Or perhaps they will discuss PPE Medpro, the company that was awarded £200m worth of government contracts to supply Britain with PPE, having been placed in a “high-priority lane” for well-connected firms, according to the Guardian. One of the company’s directors, Anthony Page, had been the registered secretary for MGM Media, the company that manages her personal brand according to her House of Lords register, but he quit that role on the very day that PPE Medpro was started up.
Given that the controversy over PPE Medpro is about some companies getting high-priority access to bid for contracts, e.g through political or other connections, Lady Mone of Mayfair seems like a particularly interesting choice for Sunak.
Page is also a director of Knox House Trust, part of the Knox Group, Barrowman’s tax advisory and wealth management company. But both Mone and Barrowman insist, according to the Guardian via their lawyer, that “neither of them is an investor, director or shareholder in PPE Medpro, and that neither had any role or function in the company, or in the process by which the contracts were awarded”. And Page’s lawyer has reportedly said PPE Medpro won contracts because it could provide PPE reliably and at competitive prices.
Why are all Rishi’s calls all with celebrities rather than people who might be able to give him some insight into the real and extremely serious economic problems that much of Britain is experiencing? And given that next week brings us Budget Day, might his time not be better spent doing other important things, like, er, working on a new autograph or something?
Related links:The baroness, the ICO fiasco, and enter Steve Wozniak - FT AlphavilleSomeone should have a word with the government’s slogan department - FT Alphaville Baroness Mone is now flogging business retreats for £15,000 - FT AlphavilleIt's really happening... Woz joins Baroness Mone's blockchain company - FT AlphavilleIs Baroness Mone's true idol Steve Wozniak or Sylvester Stallone? - FT AlphavilleDubai or bust for Baroness Bitcoin - FT Alphaville