'I slipped the pensions thing past without them noticing,' Jeremy says. 'You very much didn't,' I reply

From the diary of Rishi Sunak, Britain’s most fiscally responsible prime minister

HE had one job. Slip a massive bung to the rich while concealing it beneath waffly childcare promises that won’t come in until Starmer. ‘Did I do well?’ he asks. 

‘No,’ I explain, ‘you did not do well, Jeremy. The headlines are “giveaway for the one per cent” and “pots for the rich”. It did not go unnoticed.’

I quite like Hunt. It’s nice to have a member of my cabinet I can look down on. We both know I’d be a far better chancellor and he’d be far happier on the backbenches, but he was catapulted into a role he’s manifestly unsuitable for due to a temporary vacuum. Essentially the right-wing Corbyn.

I’d dictated the budget to him and hoped we’d get away with the pensions. After all, what’s wrong with tempting a few consultants back into hospitals? While giving bankers a tax-free way to award themselves £60 million in a pension to be collected from the age of 35?

But his delivery, up there in the Commons staring like a crazed emu at an oncoming 18-wheeler, left a lot to be desired. He had no idea what he was saying or why he was saying it, and it showed.

‘They liked the childcare!’ he adds, brightly, as if it’s news. ‘I know they did, Jeremy. That’s why it was in there. As a smokescreen. So they wouldn’t notice the bung to donors and the income tax rises.’

‘Still,’ I continue, ‘at least it wasn’t a Boris budget. Crashing in at midnight with a bottle of Chablis in one hand and a list of giveaways in the other. I wasted a full hour dealing with “HS2 to Belfast”.’

I look up, and realise I’ve messed up. Say ‘Boris’ around Jeremy and he goes rigid and his fists start to clench. Trauma from 2019 apparently. I carefully manoeuvre him into a cupboard where he can calm down.

No growth, high taxes, a load of childcare that won’t ever be delivered. It’s a shit budget. But oddly cheering, because for the first time in years it’s not my shit budget.

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A global success story all thanks to the British Empire: The gammon food critic goes Indian

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who isn’t sure about that Suella Braverman but can’t put his finger on why

THE British Empire gets a bad press. Yes, there were a few atrocities, but by and large it was benevolent and helpful. Indian restaurants are a fine example. 

Would Indian food have made it around the world without us? Not bloody likely. It’s our patronage, which the world pays attention to because we know our shit, that’s taken it global. Bollywood’s not exactly travelled, I notice.

So Indian food’s basically English – chicken tikka masala was invented by a Brummie – and I feel right at home there. It’s the perfect location for my school reunion.

What I wasn’t expecting was for half the buggers there look like relics of the Raj. I know 40 years haven’t exactly been kind to me either, but come on. It’s a real collection of bald patches and big arses, and that’s just the men.

Hiding my disappointment at how they’ve let themselves go, I peruse the menu. Tandoori chicken? Balti? A nice jalfrezi?

The waiter’s got a weird accent but when I ask where in India he’s from, he says he’s Bangladeshi and anyway he’s from Dundee. Nobody else laughs.

Tom has gone for a korma. Bland shit with cream that’s barely had a glance at the spice rack. Sally has a lamb pasanada, as is appropriate for a lady, and she’s still fit as fuck.

In the end I order a chicken madras. I know my regional delicacies, and no-one can tell me this isn’t one. Besides, it’s proper hot and I want to show off. Martin trumps me with the vindaloo. Fair play mate, but I don’t fancy being your arse in the morning.

The conversation’s hard work. Most of our teachers have died. Everybody’s got grandchildren. I sink a few Cobras and skate over the subject of my career because it’s none of their bloody business.

Madras cleared, I have a word with Sally. She’s done well for herself but my guesses of hairdresser or PA are apparently well out of line. ‘I’m surprised you don’t recognise me,’ she says. Stripper?

‘Solicitor,’ she says. ‘I represented your wife in the divorce.’ Well that’s my evening fucked. Thanks a lot, India.