Ham­mond & Co, Brexit’s cow­boy removal men

The Daily Telegraph - - Brexit Negotiations - By Michael Dea­con

ALL I can say is: I wouldn’t hire a re­movals firm run by Philip Ham­mond.

On the Today pro­gramme, the Chan­cel­lor was be­ing in­ter­viewed about Brexit. The Gov­ern­ment, he said, must strive to se­cure a “tran­si­tional deal” with the EU. So, rather than an abrupt de­par­ture from the EU, sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union at the end of March 2019, the process would be gradual, with less risk of dam­age to busi­nesses and the econ­omy. This tran­si­tional deal could, he in­di­cated, last for three or four years.

But hang on, splut­tered John Humphrys. Un­der the terms of such a deal, Bri­tain wouldn’t in any mean­ing­ful sense be leav­ing the EU for ages.

Mr Ham­mond waved this tri­fling ob­jec­tion air­ily away.

“When you buy a house,” he scoffed, “you don’t move all your fur­ni­ture in on the first day you buy it.”

Now, Mr Ham­mond’s un­der­stand­ing of the com­plex­i­ties of Brexit may or may not be sound. That re­mains to be seen. His un­der­stand­ing of fur­ni­ture removal, how­ever, prompts se­ri­ous ques­tions.

Per­son­ally, I would be re­luc­tant to hire a re­movals firm whose boss in­formed me that, rather than move all my fur­ni­ture into my new house straight away, he pro­posed to stag­ger the process over a pe­riod of three or four years.

In the first month, per­haps, his team would de­liver a sin­gle foot­stool. The week be­fore Christ­mas, a hat­stand and a fil­ing cab­i­net. The fol­low­ing Easter, a shoe rack, a host­ess trol­ley, and a cot that the baby has since out­grown. Then a quiet lit­tle in­ter­lude of 18 months or so – just to let us set­tle in – be­fore de­liv­ery of four scat­ter cush­ions, a bread bin, three deckchairs and a

‘Maybe they wouldn’t de­liver my fur­ni­ture at all, in the hope that in a year or two I’d think it was all a mis­take’

late-vic­to­rian writ­ing bureau.

Then again, maybe Ham­mond & Co Re­movals wouldn’t de­liver any of my fur­ni­ture at all – in the hope that, after a year or two of wait­ing, I’d be­gin to think the idea to move had been a ter­ri­ble mis­take, and that I was better off in my old home, which may have been poky and crum­bling and rid­dled with damp, but at least it had a bed and some chairs.

Come off it, you might say. Don’t be so lit­eral. The Chan­cel­lor merely hap­pened to say the first thing that came into his head. That was all.

I’m not sure that’s right, though. Mr Ham­mond pre­sented his fur­ni­ture anal­ogy with such con­fi­dence – as if he’d spent time proudly pol­ish­ing it, be­fore­hand. No doubt about it: he sounded ut­terly con­vinced that it rang true.

I so wanted John Humphrys to ask him what his own ex­pe­ri­ence of mov­ing house was like.

“Well, you know – same as any­one’s. No need to move the fur­ni­ture into your new place straight away. For the time be­ing, you just sleep in 11 Down­ing Street or your con­stituency home, un­til they’ve got the decor in your third prop­erty just right. I’m no dif­fer­ent from any of your lis­ten­ers, re­ally.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.