Don’t Panic, But Oliver Dowden Is Now Running The Country

Rishi Sunak and his family have jetted off to California for what the prime minister says is their first proper holiday in four years.

Although No.10 insists he will still receive his daily red box of government papers, the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the country has been passed to his deputy, Oliver Dowden.

It is the first time the Hertsmere MP has been put in charge of the government, and is a remarkable change in fortune for a man who resigned as Tory chairman barely a year ago after the party suffered two humiliating by-election defeats.

A Labour source told HuffPost UK: “What a treat for the public – the right-hand-man to the architect of austerity has been gifted the keys to the country.

“No doubt everyone is looking forward to more of the same out of touch lectures about ‘holding their nerve’ while the Tories preside over plummeting living standards.”

Here, HuffPost UK looks at some of the most embarrassing moments for the man now in charge of the nuclear missile codes.

‘Woke Psychodrama’ Speech

He may look and sound like an unlikely culture warrior, but Dowden rarely misses an opportunity to rail against the “woke ideology” he believes is infecting the West.

Speaking to a pro-Trump think tank in America last year, Dowden said that just as “rogue states are seeking to challenge the international order…a pernicious ideology is sweeping our societies”.

In a bizarre section of his speech, he said left-wing activists were “engaged in a form of Maoism determined to expunge large parts of our past in its entirety”.

He said: “The US and the UK may be different societies but we are joined by the same fundamental values.

“Neither of us can afford the luxury of indulging in this painful woke psychodrama.”

Praising Privet Hedges

Speaking at the Tories’ spring conference in Blackpool last year, Dowden even employed garden shrubbery in his war on woke.

“As I walk with my children through the calm suburbia of Hertfordshire, its values so derided by the left, I actually reflect on the great fortune we have to live in a nation defined by stability, security… and, yes, conservatism,” he told party activists.

“For me, the privet hedges of suburbia are the privet hedges of a free people. And I will make it my mission as chairman to defend those values and those freedoms”.

Four months later, Dowden had quit as chairman, leaving the privet hedges to fend for themselves.

PMQs Gaffe 1

Sunak’s taste for dodging prime minister’s questions has forced his number 2 Dowden to regularly step up and take his place.

In his first outing, he somehow managed to mix up the Tories and the SNP – leading to laughter on all sides of the Commons.

Clashing with Mhairi Black, the SNP’s deputy’s leader at Westminster, Dowden said: “I don’t know if she’s aware but the SNP have been in power for 13 years.”

In actual fact, the nationalists have been running Scotland since 2007, while the Conservatives have been the government at Westminster since 2010.

PMQs Gaffe 2

Proving that practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, Dowden’s next PMQs saw him become the butt of a joke once again.

Paying tribiute to Mhairi Black following her announcement that she is quitting at the next election, he said: “She and I joined this house at the same time and I know that she has contributed much to her party and to this place.”

In response, the SNP MP said: “I thank him for his kind words. We did join this place at the same time and I’m pretty sure we’ll be leaving at the same time.”

To be fair to Dowden, even he seemed to see the funny side of the suggestion that he will also be looking for alternative employment after the next election.

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