“What I’m really looking for is a little forgiveness,” simpers Matt Hancock, chewing on a camel’s penis.
Well, he won’t get it from the hard-pressed West Suffolk voters he deserted in exchange for £400,000 in hard cash.
Nor, probably, of his wife Martha and the three children he abandoned after being exposed by The Sun as an ass-twitching hypocrite.
And certainly not – if there is justice – for the millions he forced into a catastrophic lockdown and who now have to pay the price in Thursday’s emergency budget.
Forget for a moment the £50 billion black hole that would have opened under by Liz Truss Well-meaning but disastrous Mini Budget.
This is overshadowed by the price demanded of young and old, now and for years to come, to lock down the nation and its vital economy for weeks during the Covid pandemic.
covid cost around £410 billion, or £6,100 for every man, woman and child in the UK, to support the NHS, buy protective clothing, find a vaccine and provide job-saving leave.
“We threw money at it. . . thrown away money,” laments a former chancellor.
Yes, we also pay higher energy bills for belligerent Kremlin thugs Vladimir Poutine.
And as a former health secretary, Hancock cannot be blamed for all the spending madness, though billions have been squandered in waste and fraud under his watch.
What he can be blamed for are the endless lockdowns that have divided bereaved families, destroyed a generation of children in school and left Britain’s economy in tatters.
It was Hancock who pursued Communist China’s decision to incarcerate the nation – until he was filmed devouring a special adviser Gina Coladangelo.
And it was Hancock who personally blocked all attempts to ease lockdown rules despite a roar of protest from fellow Cabinet ministers and independent scientists.
There were other villains, of course, including the socialist-dominated group of so-called Sage experts who got just about everything wrong.
But we’ll all pay this week as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt exposes the rubble of our economy.
Millions of small businesses and restaurants risk ruin because they cannot find staff.
Yet 600,000 people of working age have quit their jobs since the lockdown, Mr Hunt said Laura Kuensberg yesterday.
Most now live on in-work benefits paid for by other workers’ taxes.
“We will ask everyone to make sacrifices,” he added ominously.
That means billions more in stealth taxes, billions in pension savings and billions less in public spending – except, of course, for the hallowed but mismanaged NHS.
The softest targets will be hit the hardest. Middle earners – traditional prey to the Labor left – will be sucked in by supposedly low-tax Tories.
Mr Hunt laments Liz Truss’ mini-budget.
Yet it was only this summer that he launched his own bid for prime minister with an identical promise to “cut taxes and aim for growth”.
Will we see any more U-turns on Conservative policy – a softer line on Brexit, perhaps?
Yesterday, Kuenssberg’s panel was jam-packed with bubbly left-wing economist Paul Johnson, historian Simon Schama and Brexit-critic Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf.
All took the opportunity to blame Brexit – not the lockdown – for our fate.
Mr Hunt is also a Remainer – and a champion of lockdown – and his defense of the leave vote was lukewarm.
The final shape of Thursday’s crisis measures will not be decided by this chancellor. It will be dictated by the PM and First Lord of the Treasury, Rishi Sunak.
Mr Sunak is a Brexiter. Thursday’s announcements will nail its colors to the mast.
Right-wing Tory MPs and ministers will be watching like hawks.
But Rishi will look over his shoulder at another predator. . . the Reform Party, whose main shareholder is the former head of Ukip Nigel Farage.
Reform leader and TalkTV star Richard Tice mops up pro-Boris and Brexit Tories looking for a place to hold a protest vote.
Farage left frontline politics for a television career after Britain left the EU in 2019, but he is tempted by a few easy choices.
If Rishi wants to stop Nigel from coming back to bite him, he must prove on Thursday that the Tory Party hasn’t gone left.
New sinister level
The POSTURING police have gone from a national laughing stock to a public menace in their own right.
We can laugh at eccentric terror boss Matt Jukes, the Met’s self-styled ‘HeForShe gender equality chief’, who dressed in a hot and cold Menovest for Menopause Awareness Month .
But the arrest and detention of two innocent journalists for reporting on M25 eco-nuts takes police mismanagement to a new level of truly sinister totalitarianism.
Democracy cannot survive without freedom of expression. Neither stands a chance without a free press.
We used to complain about “a few bad apples”.
Now we have to look for the good ones.