Welcome to the UK in 2023, a true Blue Monday where King Charles is suing Elon Musk for unpaid rent while new investigations have been launched into more Tory shenanigans.
The third Monday of January, aka ‘Blue Monday’ is, for a combination of factors, considered the most depressing day of the year. This particular Blue Monday will, for a culmination of factors, go down as one of the most depressing on record.
It’s six-and-half years since the Brexit vote and many months into a cost of living crisis fuelled by rising prices and plummeting falling living standards. Key workers – ritually clapped on Thursday nights for risking their lives during the pandemic – are now having to strike to try and stop the government inflicting on them yet another (real terms) pay cut. The forecast is bleak,
However, rather than fixing Britain’s myriad problems – critical ones causing untold damage to UK society and its institutions – those in charge of it all are once again focused on excusing even more apparent/alleged/obvious Tory wrongdoings.
To understand why the country is in the state it’s in, one only has to look at who is running it, what they have done since taking power in 2010, and what they are doing now.
Just take Blue Monday as a snapshot of broken Britain where a former MP was in a court on trial for expenses fraud having allegedly submitted “dishonest” invoices totalling £30,000 to fund his cocaine habit.
Also today, prime minister Rishi Sunak ordered an investigation into the tax row that has engulfed Conservative party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, former chancellor of the exchequer in charge of tax.
It was a “careless and not deliberate” error not to pay the tax pointed out the multimillionaire YouGov founder and one-time Tory chancellor – who just a few months ago tried to become PM. Zahawi is desperately trying to cling on to his cabinet post but his defence could have easily summed up his predecessors’ handling of the economy. And, as increasingly evident, Sunak’s own handling of Zahawi’s increasingly inevitable exit.
“Care less and very much deliberate” would be a good summation of Sunak’s own predecessor’s time in No 10, in so far as everything Boris Johnson has ever done has been deliberately for himself. And he couldn’t care less about who might be damaged by his doing it. Be they colleagues, former wives or the vulnerable, whose corpses he would have seen “piled high on the streets”.
Johnson may have left No 10 but he’s not gone away. In fact he’s actually threatening a comeback despite everything that happened, an awful lot of which is still to play out.
Because, just as Sunak announced an investigation into the Tory pary chairman, parliament announced its investigation into Boris Johnson’s appointment of the BBC chairman. This too became inevitable following revelations about Richard Sharp’s assistance to the disgraced former PM in securing a loan guarantee only weeks before Johnson appointed him chairman of the BBC.
“This is a load of complete nonsense,” Johnson responded this morning. As always, he obviously couldn’t care less and was as deliberate in his choice of words as he was with his choice of hat, continuing: “Absolute nonsense. Let me just tell you, Richard Sharp is a good and a wise man but he knows absolutely nothing about my personal finances, I can tell you that for 100% ding dang sure.
“This is just another example of the BBC disappearing up its own fundament”.
Speaking of disappearing fundaments on Blue Monday, is has emerged that King Charles is suing Elon Musk for unpaid rent. The BBC reports that the Crown Estate – which oversees the King’s property portfolio – filed a claim against Twitter for alleged arrears on its London headquarters near Piccadilly Circus.
Musk paid £36 billion ($44bn) for Twitter in October last year (almost the same as what England’s Covid test and trace programme cost). Since then he has sacked thousands of staff. He is now the world’s second richest man. And apparently his company forgot to pay some of the £2.6 million annual rent owed to the Crown Estate which last week filed its claim against Twitter in the High Court.
By virtue of the Crown Estate, Charles is not just the King, he’s also one of the country’s biggest landlords. As well as owning all the seabed around the UK – and making billions from charging energy companies for licences to operate there – the Crown Estate owns properties (including cottages, castles, forests, retail parks and huge swathes of London) valued at over £15bn. Charles, as reigning monarch owns everything “in right of the Crown” and gets “15% of the annual surplus of the estate” in the form of the Sovereign grant.
It’s worth hundreds of millions and proof that for some blue Monday will be bluer than for others.