An election might be on but, as always, few can resist the lure of tawdry scandal. Prince Andrew’s bizarre interview concerning his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein has dominated headlines and overshadowed the other major draw attention-wise, the salacious scandal that surrounds Jennifer Arcuri and her recent interviews on her time with Tory leader Boris Johnson.
Arcuri is in Britain giving interviews about her relationship with Johnson. She and Johnson face questions about money awarded to her business while Johnson was London’s mayor. While Arcuri offered nothing new, refusing to confirm or deny rumours of an affair, her interview, which aired on ITV, did offer moments of comedy. Arcuri played the victim scorned bewailing how she has loyally kept Johnson’s secrets only for him to “cast me aside, like I am some … gremlin”. Still it seems unlikely this will shift the needle much. Boris’ alleged tendencies are well-known and likely already priced-in by voters, and there were no shocking new revelations.
Still these two stories will probably eclipse the political events of the next few days in the minds of most voters. Certainly there’s been little coverage of the Sunday evening TV debate of Welsh party leaders, though that might not be just Andrew and Arcuri’s fault…
Still, there have been some important policy announcements today as Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, and Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson used their speeches to the Confederation of British Industry to set out their respective stalls. The leaders of two main parties faced a tough crowd with business leaders worried both by Brexit and Labour’s lurch to the left. The sudden announcement of plans to nationalise broadband has spooked business undoing much of the quiet wooing done by John McDonnell. The CBI’s Director General opened the conference with chilly remarks about the risks of “extreme political ideology” on both sides of the political spectrum to business.
Both leaders brought their game faces. Johnson’s big promises focused on reducing costs for business raising the allow for small businesses’ national insurance bills from £3,000 to £4,000, tax relief on building or leasing structures, and more tax credits for R&D. These proposals were likely partly aimed to improve the mood that followed his other announcement that plans to cut corporation tax from 19% to 17% in 2020 had been shelved.