Hammond & Co, Brexit’s cowboy removal men
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.”