'You're In A Hole': Nick Ferrari Leaves Minister Floundering Over Lavish Tory Spending

The clash came after Labour revealed Rishi Sunak's Treasury used government money for £3,000's worth of art.
Nick Ferrari skewered transport minister Richard Holden over the Tories' lavish spending
Nick Ferrari skewered transport minister Richard Holden over the Tories' lavish spending

LBC’s Nick Ferrari scrutinised Richard Holden over a report into the government’s “lavish spending” in an awkward interview on Monday, leaving the transport minister in a pinch.

A dossier from the Labour Party found that the Conservatives have spent nearly £150 million on government credit cards in a single year, with almost £345,000 spent by Foreign Office officials in 2021 in “restaurants and bars”.

The Department of Health and Social Care spent £59,155 on stationary items in March 2021, while the Treasury also spent £3,393 on 13 fine art photographs from the Tate Gallery when current prime minister Rishi Sunak was chancellor.

Labour has subsequently accused the government of “unchecked spending sprees” as departments used up their budgets at the end of the financial year.

Radio host Ferrari was quick to bring to sore subject up while interviewing Holden on Monday morning, asking him: ”How do my listeners benefit from £3,000 worth of – I’m going to call it artwork – on the Chancellor’s walls?”

“Look, I think we need to see this all in context,” the Tory MP replied.

He claimed that the last year the Labour Party were in government, back in 2010, they spent “almost a billion pounds on these cards”.

“And in order to try and target some of this spending, what we did was introduce some major transparency reforms in 2012.”

The minister continued: “Every month all of this data is published transparently on the government’s website.”

But, he added: “Look, I can’t justify – I’m not going to – In terms of justifying, er, every single piece of government, er, spending on these cards.”

“You can’t be comfortable with £3,000 worth of photographs on the chancellor’s walls,” Ferrari pushed.

“Are you comfortable with that, minister?”

“Look, I’ll speak for myself on this,” Holden said. “My last visit to the north-west, last week, I stayed in the Premiere Inn in Bury, and my spending – I even drove my own team up there.

″That’s the way I approach these things.”

“Well, credit to you – but I wonder if I can bring you back. You can offer no support for £3,000 worth of photographs on the chancellor’s wall at this time?”

When Holden started to repeat his previous claims, Ferrari replied: ″No, you can’t. You’re a blunt-speaking bloke, just be honest.

″£3,000 is a farce isn’t it?”

Referring to the cost of living crisis and the ongoing strikes from public sector workers struggling to pay their bills, Ferrari said: “We’re all asking everyone, don’t take a pay rise, nurses get back to work, rail workers go and drive your trains.

“Meanwhile, the chancellor had £3,000 on his wall.”

When Holden tried to respond, Ferrari said: “OK you won’t [respond], because you’re a decent bloke. You’re in a hole here. OK.”

The minister just said: “We’ve seen an 85% reduction in spending on these these cards, I don’t know why the Labour Party’s pushing this at the moment. ”

“Because, respectfully sir, it appalls my listeners.

It appalls my listeners when nurses need some money, we’ve spoken a couple of times, you’re a pretty candid bloke and you know, we haven’t even spoken about the fact that Liz Truss decided to spend £1,500 on lunch and dinner at Jakarta’s most exclusive restaurant – but we’ll leave that there because you’re in a hole.”

A Labour source told HuffPost UK that the interview was “absolute car crash stuff”.


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