It’s Jimmy Dimly again for Sunday’s TV interviews as Hunt for Jeremy goes on

This is getting painful. You can see defeat in their eyes. The body language of a party that has long since given up. That knows it has been rumbled by an electorate. They’ve known it’s all over for months but now there isn’t even the pretence of making a fight of it. The Conservatives are just a disunited rabble who can barely even be bothered to go through the motions. All passion spent.

Normally, with less than two weeks to go before an election, you’d expect the government machine to be gearing up for one final push. A last hurrah to convince the country they never had it so good. But no. Nothing. Surely Sunday of all days was the time to wheel out a big beast?

Perhaps Jeremy Hunt, on this, the eighth anniversary of the Brexit referendum. Who better than the chancellor to take command of our television screens on the Trevor Phillips and Laura Kuenssberg shows to bathe in the brilliance of that decision? To tell us that a 3% hit to GDP was completely worth it. To big up the fantastic trade deals that will make almost no material difference to our economy.

Rishi Sunak is desperate to sell the Conservative economic miracle. The miracle that has led to a fall in living standards over the course of the parliament. Jezza, though, appears to have gone into hiding. If I was worried about his absence a week ago, I am now beside myself.

It’s OK to come out now, Jeremy. Nobody blames you – well, not much – for the mess you have made. Many felt you were never up to the job. It wasn’t fair to make you chancellor. You can barely operate your own debit card. So if anyone sees a lonely figure with a dog hiding behind a hedge in Godalming, please do notify the police. Or at least the Tory party. The country needs to know that he’s still alive.

With Jezza still missing, it was left to James Cleverly to speak for the government on the Sunday shows. No disrespect to Jimmy Dimly – he’s a nice enough bloke, if not over gifted in intelligence – but he was on these same shows less than a month ago. And with the best will in the world, current affairs programmes aren’t best served up as repeats. We all know what Jimmy D thinks – not much – because he’s already told us.

It might have been more of a public service if Sky and the BBC had said the Tories didn’t really fancy taking part this Sunday. Conservative central office had done a quick ring round every minister except Cleverly had refused to pick up. But Dimly it was and Dimly was who we got. He looked understandably miserable. If he had been having a bad week before going on the programme it was about to get a whole lot worse.

Usually Jimmy is up for the fight, but even he seems to see it’s now all pointless. He didn’t even get a chance to take the attack to Labour as he was too busy firefighting the ongoing Tory shit show. First up, he was asked by Phillips about a leaked recording of his aide, James Sunderland, saying that the Rwanda plan was crap.

“I’m glad you asked me that,” he said. He wasn’t. He really wasn’t. It was counterintuitive, Dimly continued, but if you listened to the tape carefully you could see that what Sunderland had really meant when he had said it was crap was that it was actually brilliant. On Laura K we got to hear the tape and we all heard that what he had meant by crap was that it was crap. Ah well.

Phillips observed that Cleverly had been equally sceptical about the scheme in comments he had made. Not at all. Saying it was bat-shit crazy was in no way similar to calling it crap. There was no higher praise than bat-shit crazy. Besides the planes had already taken off. A-ha. Poor Jimmy D thought this was his ‘Gotcha’ moment. He just sounded all Alan Partridge. Because it turned out he was talking about two people who had volunteered to go on holiday to Rwanda if the government paid for their flights and accommodation and gave them £3K. You could tell Dimly’s heart wasn’t in this.

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This was just the start. Because Phillips was about to move on to the betting scandal inside No 10. Overnight, the story had broken that yet another insider – Nick Mason, Rishi’s chief data officer in No 10 – was subject to an investigation by the Gambling Commission for betting on inside information, according to the Sunday Times. He’s denied wrongdoing and has refused to comment further. But upon being confronted with more negative headlines, Jimmy shook his head gravely. He was very disappointed in anyone who was found to be guilty.

What we really needed to realise here, Dimly went on, was that the real victim in all this was Rishi Sunak. If only he could trust his own people to do as he did. Betting against the pound during the financial crash. Now that was an act of nobility. Phillips wasn’t going to be fobbed off so easily. Wasn’t this all a reflection of a government that had been in power too long. Where wrongdoing was perfectly acceptable. Hell, Rish! couldn’t even bring himself to suspend any alleged to have been involved. Not even the two Tory candidates. What kind of government was this? A question that neither needed nor received an answer.

Eventually, Phillips took pity and let Jimmy D go. Under normal circumstances, this would have been the end of his media engagements prior to the election, but now it was looking odds on for him to be back in the same time, same place next week. Unless Mel Stride was available. All the other cabinet ministers had gone undercover. Where’s Jezza when you need him? Bring on Pet Rescue.

The Guardian