At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on 26 February, Theresa May told SNP’s Ian Blackford that: “He should vote for a deal – simples”, using a well-known advertising catchphrase. But it turns out she did this so her aide could win a bet. The prize was tea at the Ritz. It’s yet another Tory kick in the face.
On 2 March, the Mail on Sunday reported that:
Seema Kennedy, Mrs May’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, had a wager with Tory MP Simon Hoare that she could get her boss to say the word [simples]. Tea at The Ritz costs £58 – or £77 with a glass of bubbly.
Not surprisingly, this news has caused shock and outrage. With less than a month to go, and no Brexit deal on the table, May’s original line left many MPs “stunned”:
Theresa Meerkat just stunned the Commons by Maybot malfunction in stating it’s her deal or no deal then concluding
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
— Rupa Huq MP (@RupaHuq) February 26, 2019
Really can’t believe the PM has just said her Brexit plan is ‘Simples!’ Well that’s one word for it!
— Sharon Hodgson MP (@SharonHodgsonMP) February 26, 2019
But now, we know she did this for a bet. So it really does show just how totally out of touch May and her government truly are.
Out of touch
For a start, it poses a very serious question about whether this bet breaches parliamentary procedure:
Surely @IanBlackfordMP should be raising this as a point of order? This surely brings the house & indeed the office of Prime Minister into disrepute when she can be persuaded to say something which wins a bet or has any other financial recompense as a result.
— David Hooks (@PoliticsScot) March 3, 2019
And as the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon pointed out, the timing of their “jolly japes” is also deeply concerning:
Jolly japes…while they drive the country to catastrophe. What a shambolic shower. https://t.co/eBJqbx7Xtm
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) March 3, 2019
£77 win for tea at the Ritz. That's the amount my friend gets to live on. Actually she gets £73 a week. I'm all for having fun at work but this isn't exactly the height of tact is it? Mind you its probably the first time the silly woman actually did anything she was asked to do. https://t.co/mYxT4ayqon
— Julie (@julie_crete) March 3, 2019
A Knife Crime epidemic, a homelessness crisis a collapsed NHS, abandoned towns, child poverty, austerity, Brexit and Theresa May Govt betting tea at the fucking Ritz for PM to say ‘Simples’ in Parliament.. Are you Real?!? https://t.co/BcPe5okyHm
— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) March 4, 2019
In all seriousness, while the Tories play games and indulge in champagne and canapés at The Ritz, our homeless are left dying in the freezing cold and Brexit is still a mess!
— Lawrence Kenwright (@LawKenwright) March 4, 2019
How many families in poverty could have been fed for the cost of tea at The Ritz? How many nights in a homeless shelter?
— Bad Hare #PCPEU (@HunHo7) March 3, 2019
Simples: Theresa May's Meerkat quip won her bag-carrier tea at the Ritz
Called it “theatre” before but PMQs has now descended into opportunity for Tory MPs to bet with each other for not just cuppa but one with £77 price tag – while universal credit bites https://t.co/z2rYONxYVa
— Rupa Huq MP (@RupaHuq) March 3, 2019
The timing of this bet truly does lift the lid on Conservative policy. Because it came in the same week that data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that inequality in the UK is rising. As the Big Issue reported, “the gap between the richest and the poorest widened”, and “the benefits freeze is to blame”. The report found that:
The richest fifth of the population saw average income increase by 4.7 per cent for the financial year ending in 2018 while it contracted by 1.6 per cent for the poorest.
And yet Kennedy, Hoare and May got involved in a bet for tea at the Ritz. As well as showing that they don’t have a clue, this reveals just how twisted and cruel this government truly is.Support us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.