Following the disappointing snap election result, Theresa May has had to relax her approach to government – gone are the days when Cabinet members are kept off the airwaves. As a result of the new regime, lobby hacks today finally had a member of the government speak at a press gallery lunch.
Doing the honours was David Gauke, the new Work and Pensions Secretary. The former ‘tax personality of the year’ set the cat among the pigeons as he hinted that the pensions triple lock could be scrapped in ten years. However, it was Gauke’s jokes that caught Mr S’s attention. During his time in the Treasury, George Osborne – then Chancellor – regularly opted to ‘uncork the Gauke’ when he found himself in a sticky situation. Now that Osborne is out of government, Gauke took the opportunity to take a pop at his old boss:
‘Can I just apologise if there is anybody here who came with the expectation that George Osborne would be speaking today. Obviously he was unavailable and I have stepped in. In fact, you’re lucky to have me, because actually Thursday is his BlackRock day and I actually help out with the West End final version. Although for the avoidance of doubt, I don’t write the editorials.’
Of his time in the Treasury, Gauke said he would greatly miss ‘explaining the virtues of some of the controversial policies we were setting out, then going out and explaining why it was still very wise for us to drop those controversial measures’.
As for his new brief, Gauke’s research ahead of taking on the role came up with mixed results:
‘So I thought I would do a little bit of research as to what people were saying about DWP and I had a look and googled it and was a little surprised at what I saw: hugely expensive, difficult customers, very socially conservative. I didn’t realise that was actually the DUP. DWP… DUP… they’re not quite homophones.’
No doubt Gauke’s performance will help move the never-ending DUP negotiations along…