Yes, Prime Minister (2013) s01e02 Episode Script

The Poisoned Chalice

Humphrey, why on earth would you want us to join the euro now? Prime Minister, your summit conference at Lancaster House to solve this terrible financial crisis which currently threatens to engulf the whole of Europe has been an abject diplomatic failure.
But joining the euro? It's going from the frying pan into the fire! Look what happened to Greece.
But the Kumranistanis are oil-rich, and if we become part of their pipeline project to Europe, their loan will solve all of Europe's financial problems.
The cost is too high.
This is a shameless scheme, Humphrey, to get us to join the euro.
But the loan is in euros! All I know is, I have caught you red-handed in a devious attempt to inveigle us into the Eurozone behind my back.
No! Well, yes, but And you were going to hide it from me until it was too late for me to do anything about it.
Prime Minister, you need this deal.
I did it for you! You must be barking mad! Joining the euro now? I am trying to save you from yourself.
No European Central Bank.
No euro.
Or no deal! But the Germans will have so many objections.
Ten trillion dollars' worth of objections? I thought not.
And you were going to let them get away with it.
It would be the ultimate victory for Brussels.
Britain becomes an insignificant outpost of the collapsing European empire.
Prime Minister, if you take another look at the computer models Computer models are what got us into this financial mess in the first place.
Oh, no, no, no, that's quite different.
Nobody knew that those computer models in the City were being given faulty information.
Everyone assumed that mortgages were worth their face value.
But they were worth nothing! Why didn't anyone know? Why didn't you know? Well, everybody thought everybody else understood what was going on.
Nobody wanted to admit that they couldn't make sense of it.
Why couldn't they? Because it didn't make sense! There were some who knew, but the ones who didn't know didn't believe that the ones who did know knew.
Say that again? Prime Minister, nobody wanted to rock the boat because everybody was making so much money! Computer models, Humphrey, are no different from fashion models seductive, unreliable, easily corrupted and they lead sensible people to make fools of themselves.
And because you believed the computer models about the euro, you tried to bounce your plan past me, and not tell me until it was too late.
I'm appalled! I really don't know whether we can go on working together.
Prime Minister! I always thought I could trust you.
You can! Quite frankly, I am now profoundly suspicious about this whole Kumranistan loan.
I mean, I don't know what else I don't know.
Do you know? Do I know what you don't know? Yes.
Is there anything else I don't know that I should know? I hardly know where to begin.
About this plan! Yes, of course, Prime Minister Look, you know everything you need to know if you want this loan.
If you don't want your premiership to crash on take-off, this is the way that it has to be.
(KNOCK AT THE DOOR) Drinks with Mr Aitikeev, the Kumranistani Foreign Secretary, are in five minutes, Prime Minister.
Thank you, Bernard.
At least I can believe what YOU tell me.
Bernard! Did you tell the Prime Minister about our possibly joining the euro? Absolutely not, Sir Humphrey.
You told me not to.
Well, then, what put him on to it? Perhaps it was his Special Adviser.
Oh, that woman! How did he arrange to get her here without your knowing? I expect he called her on his BlackBerry.
You're not letting him make his own appointments! If you lose control over his diary, you lose control over him.
You never know where it'll end.
He'll start running the country.
He can't.
He doesn't know how to.
Of course he doesn't.
So what can I do about it? Get rid of his BlackBerry, Bernard! How? Look.
Give me yours, and find me a paperclip and straighten it.
Now, you take off the back plate.
Pull out the battery thus.
Ah, you see that hole, Bernard? That is the reset button.
Now, you push that thus.
That, Bernard, is scrambled.
For days! Thank you, Sir Humphrey.
I had no idea you understood technology.
I understand survival, Bernard.
And you can practise while I am at the dinner.
(THEY CHAT IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE) You don't look happy, Bernard.
What's the matter? I've just had another wigging from Sir Humphrey.
What about this time? I can't really tell you, I'm afraid.
Oh, well, you'll feel better after dinner.
I hear the new cook's awfully good.
I can't come to the dinner now.
Humphrey? Why do you put up with it? Well, he's my boss.
And I thought the Prime Minister was your boss.
Oh, come on, Claire, I know you get it.
I'm the servant of two masters.
It's not really a problem when they want the same thing.
It's not even a problem when they want different things but it is a problem when they want completely opposite things.
And in that situation, presumably the Prime Minister takes precedence? Well, yes and no.
The Prime Minister is only my temporary boss.
Sir Humphrey's my permanent boss.
Surely there's a way of keeping them both happy.
Is there? Do tell me what it is.
Well Oh, Claire, there isn't an answer.
The Prime Minister wants me to help him score party political points.
Sir Humphrey wants me to be completely impartial.
The Prime Minister expects me to cut corners, Sir Humphrey expects me to stick to the rules.
The Prime Minister wants to blame everything on the bureaucracy.
Sir Humphrey wants to put the blame on government policy.
I have galloping professional schizophrenia.
How do you manage? Mostly, I say nothing to both of them - very intelligently.
I've got to be two completely different people, and I'm not sure either of me likes me anymore.
I like you, Bernard.
Really? That's very kind of you, but which one of me do you like? Both of you, Bernard.
Mr Aitikeev, this is the policy advisor to the Prime Minister.
I'm Claire Sutton.
(CHAT CONTINUES AROUND THEM) Prime Minister? Ah, there you are! Why are you lurking out here? Where's my speech? Speech? I have to make a speech of welcome to the Kumranistani Foreign Secretary.
Why? Why can't you just welcome him? That's what I'm saying, I want to welcome him.
What do I say? Well how about, um "Welcome"? Fine.
Then what? Well, propose his health.
But what do I actually say? Prime Minister, I don't write your speeches, actually.
I'm merely the Secretary to the Cabinet.
Why don't you ask Claire? Surely soft-soaping foreigners is her job.
Claire didn't know he was coming.
Neither did I.
You kept it secret, remember? And now you expect me to welcome some geezer from Central Asia when the first time I heard of him or his country was exactly ten minutes ago.
Actually, I think it's Bernard's job.
This is government business, not party.
Perhaps Bernard has drafted something for you.
Well, where is he? Missing in action! I simply can't imagine why he's not here.
Who's that sitting next to Claire? That's Kumranistan Foreign Secretary, Mr Aitikeev.
I'm pleased to see that Claire is entertaining him.
(CHAT CONTINUES IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE) Sorry, Prime Minister, I didn't realise you'd want to make a speech.
I haven't had time to write one.
Here are some notes with some information on Kumranistan.
I actually have to go now.
Why? Where are you going? Well, Sir Humphrey told me to .
to stay and hear your speech? Obviously! Prime Minister, I think this might be the moment, before our guest of honour gets the worse for wear.
Well, now.
I haven't prepared anything to say in welcome, but I very much want to welcome our very welcome guest.
Welcome! Um We celebrate tonight the long-standing friendship .
relationship between our great country and yours.
I mean No, your great country and ours.
Erm, we first came across each other in the early days of the East India Company and the Indian Empire .
and initially, of course, you were all just wild tribesmen .
who we were quite unable to tame or control.
But in the fullness of time, we managed to conquer Not conquer.
Not conquer at all.
Certainly not.
No, we managed to overcome your magnificent and fierce spirit of independence.
And I'm sure you were most grateful for that.
But then, as part of our empire, on which the sun never sets .
we built your railways and made the trains run on time.
I wish you could do the same for us now! Anyway Um, we we went through some rough patches.
The massacre at And we were not blameless.
By no means.
But to bring us up to date, erm, you Actually, you had a long spell under the Soviets.
But now we can welcome you to that great fellowship of democracies.
Or at least you could make a start on the long journey towards a fully democratic society.
Or whatever, whatever society suits you best.
So, it gives me great pleasure to propose your health, sir, to welcome you and to raise a glass in, um .
Dinner went well, I thought.
They liked my speech.
And they really liked the goulash and dumplings.
Oh! They liked your speech too.
How did you get on with the Kumranistani Foreign Secretary? Was he friendly? Very.
No difficulty understanding him? No difficulty at all.
You think he's just a figurehead or a really hands-on Minister? Oh, he's hands-on all right.
Well, once he's on board, we'll just need a few endorsements.
You remember the World Economic Forum at Davos? That really worked because Bob Geldof came out in support of it.
I know, we're working on that.
And Annie Lennox.
And Bono.
Bono! Oh, great! (KNOCK AT THE DOOR) Hello, Bernard.
Enjoy dinner? Oh, very much, Prime Minister.
Enjoy my speech? Yes, Prime Minister, but the goulash was good.
New cook, apparently.
Yes, and in connection with that, we have a situation.
We've just discovered the cook here is in the UK illegally.
We have an illegal immigrant working at Chequers? How? What the hell is the Home Office doing? I wonder if anyone will ever solve that perennial riddle.
Plotting to get rid of me, I should imagine.
The Home Secretary wants my job.
They all do.
I'll reshuffle her to the graveyard the Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports.
You know, I've never understood the connection between those three.
Culture, Media and Sport? None of them matter.
What do you want me to do about this cook? Where's she from? She wouldn't say, apparently, but she's got a false EU passport.
Well, couldn't we just rush a visa through for her? I'll try, but if you're right about the Home Office, it could take months.
I think we'll have to let her go.
We can't risk the media finding out.
"Prime Minister Harbours Illegal Immigrant!" How did it come to light? One of the waiters mentioned it at dinner.
Somebody's probably phoned the BBC already.
(THEY LAUGH) (PHONE RINGS) Yes? It's the BBC! Yes, thank you.
That was the Press Office, actually.
BBC Television's devoting its Sunday morning programme to you, Prime Minister.
Should I be pleased? I fear not.
It'll be called "Government In Crisis".
Oh, Christ! They want to interview you about the rumoured cabinet reshuffle and the deadlock in the Lancaster House summit.
You're not doing that, Jim.
He's not doing that.
If I could mention the Kumranistan loan You can't! Not until Kumranistan has definitely signed on the dotted line and this euro business with the European Central Bank is sorted out.
Phone them back.
Pretend to be helpful.
Whatever they ask, just give them one of the replies in the red binder by the phone.
I haven't seen this before.
Supplied by the Press Office.
At my suggestion.
I worked on it with them.
Robin Simpson, please.
This is Robin Simpson.
It's Bernard Woolley, the Prime Minister's Principal Private Secretary.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister can't speak to you at the moment, but how can I help? (SPEAKERPHONE:) 'Well, it seems he's losing' the support of his cabinet and his backbenchers.
Number three.
"The Prime Minister is not interested in Westminster tittle-tattle.
" "He has the full support of his colleagues and his party" "on all matters of substance.
" I see.
But has the Prime Minister thought of resigning 'in the interests of party unity?' Are you seriously asking me that? Number four.
"The Prime Minister was elected to do a job, "and he intends to get on with it.
"It will mean tough decisions, but that's what the country expects "and that's what he's going to do.
" Next? 'What about the awful state of the economy?' BOTH: Number one! "This isn't a British crisis, it's a world crisis.
" "Many countries are worse affected than we are.
" "We intend to play our part within the community.
" 'But what exactly is he doing about it?' Two? Two! Number two.
"The government will do everything that needs to be done.
" "He will not flinch from his duty" "and a statement will be made when the time is ripe.
" 'Why do you think the European Financial summit has got nowhere?' I don't think that.
BOTH: Five.
What? Five! Is the Prime Minister there? Er No, that's just the, er TV you can hear.
"The Prime Minister was elected to do a job and" Oh, no, I've done that one already.
"The meeting-stroke-conference has certainly not been a failure.
" "There has been invaluable groundwork done" "and a blueprint is being drawn up for the next phase.
" "Rome wasn't built in a day!" Oh, thank you! What are you thanking her for? She says I've been thoroughly unhelpful.
Well done, Bernard.
Well done, both of you.
How happy is the Prime Minister about his future? He's as happy as a ratcatcher on a rubbish dump.
The Prime Minister is as happy as an environmental health officer on a civic amenity site.
I hate the BBC! It's like having two oppositions one at Westminster and the other at Broadcasting House.
(PHONE RINGS) Yes? Ah, Miss Simpson again.
What kind of leak? About joining the euro? (No!) No, the Prime Minister knows nothing about this.
Britain's position on the euro remains unchanged.
Come on, let's get online! No, I can't explain the markets.
Who can? My BlackBerry doesn't seem to be working.
Mine is.
Oh, this is interesting! "The rumours about joining the euro" "started after heavy buying of euros" "by Golding Brothers Bank.
" Funny.
Why? Humphrey has a directorship lined up there when he retires.
He's out of control! It might have been somebody else.
Who else knew? Even I didn't know.
Shall I get Sir Humphrey? If there's been heavy buying of the euro, that would explain today's heavy selling of the pound.
I must do something! I may be able to help.
I've been doing some research into some of this.
We've had that paper ready for a while.
What paper? Reform of the Civil Service, root and branch.
What? Bernard, things are about to change round here.
We started to curb the MPs, now we must deal with the Civil Service.
Humphrey has tried to bounce us into Europe and feather his nest by briefing that bank.
I have got to get him under control.
He's an over-mighty subject.
Actually, he's the Queen's subject, not yours.
You're just the Prime Minister Yes, I know who I am! Claire, this latest outrage by Humphrey is just one more example of the corruption of those who think they're above the law.
Hello, Humphrey.
We were just talking about you.
Prime Minister, the Director-General of the BBC is here to see you.
It's in your diary, Prime Minister.
What does he want? More money, I expect.
Isn't that what the BBC always wants? Well, maybe we could manage it if we brought in a Civil Service Reform Bill straightaway.
What? Reform of the Civil Service, Humphrey, root and branch.
Well, well, what, what What has this got to do with the BBC? Well, saving money on the Civil Service would release more money for the Beeb.
Ah! Well, I would advise against a precipitate approach to the reform of the Civil Service, Prime Minister, or the BBC, which is a magnificent organisation.
It is the Rolls-Royce of broadcasting.
This all needs mature deliberation, extensive consultation OK.
So the alternative is, if we could really save money on the BBC, then the Civil Service Reform Bill wouldn't be so urgent.
What do you think? I know you love the BBC.
I think it would be rather courageous, Prime Minister.
Would it? No, actually, it wouldn't! I'm not falling for that any more.
It would not It would not be courageous, it would merely be controversial.
In fact, it might even win me some votes, putting some cash back into the voters' pockets.
So, we're all agreed.
More cuts for the Beeb and we put Civil Service reform on the back burner.
Glad to have your loyal support, Humphrey.
Show the DG in.
Oh Jeremy, do come in.
The Director-General, Prime Minister.
Jeremy! Jim! Drinkie? I'm on Scotch.
Oh, fine.
I'm afraid we're a bit rushed, but do sit down.
I'm glad you're here.
I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about that TV programme.
What programme? The programme you're running on Sunday, rubbishing me.
Are we? Oh, yes.
Please, let's not play games.
Look, it's not about you specifically, it's part of a broad, measured look at the state of the nation.
Rubbishing me, in fact.
No, no.
Humphrey? Come on.
Er, Jeremy Perhaps you're not aware of the extent of this financial crisis? Anything that destabilises Britain at this juncture would be grossly irresponsible.
Obviously, we don't want to destabilise Britain, as you put it.
But we're not the government information service either.
We have a duty to reflect all shades of opinion.
We're journalists.
It's our job to keep the public fully informed.
Well, why don't you postpone the programme, at least until after the outcome of the Lancaster House Summit is clear? I hope you're not putting political pressure on the BBC? Political pressure? Good heavens, no! Oh, that would be most improper.
I'm not even political, just a humble civil servant.
And we truly value the independence of the BBC.
I'm glad to hear it.
But we can't possibly postpone at such short notice and I can't interfere with content.
I'm only the Director-General.
Oh, I see! Besides, the producers would smell a rat.
And they'd leak it.
Um, just to clarify - a rat can leak, but you can't leak a rat.
Thank you, Bernard.
Most helpful.
So the BBC's smug and self-satisfied pundits are going ahead with their biased and scurrilous attack on the democratically elected government.
Got that, Bernard? ".
Democratically elected government.
" No, our team of professional journalists are going ahead with their fair and balanced review of the current political situation.
Got THAT, Bernard? Well, let me, let me stop you right there, because Humphrey's just come up with a really interesting idea.
Haven't you, Humphrey? I? Er He says that in these straitened times, making even more cuts in expenditure will be necessary.
We've already cut to the bone.
There's no more we can do.
Humphrey says we could sell your digital channels, your websites, BBC Two, Three, Four Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine All the radio stations.
Except Radio Four.
BBC Worldwide, BBC Publications, BBC Symphony And the other four orchestras.
And then we could cut the licence fee by 80%.
That would be such a relief for you.
But Humphrey, you always said Yes, no, I am.
I'm a great supporter of the BBC, it's just that But you were saying they were overstretched.
Weren't you? Well Oh, Jeremy! Yes, well, in normal circumstances, naturally, this would be an entirely different ballgame, but well well, yes, if the nation is under extreme fiscal and monetary pressure it could become necessary, inter alia, to consider measures, which under different economic conditions would not be desirable.
I couldn't have put it better myself.
And Humphrey pointed out that only about 35 to 45 hours a week on the BBC is original and distinctive programming.
So you could get all that onto one channel.
That's what Humphrey's proposing.
You'd be able to keep all your quality programmes, and the World Service of course.
And all your financial problems would be solved.
It's a monstrous idea! The BBC is the great bulwark of civilized values against a tide of commercialism.
It is a beacon of world broadcasting.
It's a beacon of repeats, Hollywood movies, bought-in programmes and bought-in sporting events.
Most of what you show on the BBC is no different from what people get on subscription channels, commercial channels, Pay-TV You can't possibly compare a great public broadcasting service with tacky commercial output.
You can compare the programmes.
Cookery programmes, make-overs, quizzes, game shows It's cultural vandalism! Why? Radio Three.
Classical music! Is readily available everywhere.
And you'd be free at last to focus on quality, and forget about The Apprentice, The Weakest Link, Addicted to Boob Jobs Help! My Dog Is As Fat As Me! And all that junk that so obviously doesn't need to be paid for by the taxpayer.
It's quality entertainment.
It's optical chewing gum.
Humphrey! Oh Jeremy! You know, I yield to no-one in my admir What, what you say at the end of the day, other things being equal mutatis mutandis, in the fullness of time The Cabinet would never back you on this! Actually, that is the one thing they would definitely back me on.
When we go on the BBC, your presenters just jeer and sneer at all of us.
Posturing opportunists who've never had to take responsibility for anything.
Anyway, we'll study your comments on this but I think Humphrey's basic idea is pretty sound.
So I'll wait to hear from you.
You certainly will.
Oh, incidentally Just to change the subject, if if I were to give a live interview in the programme on Sunday, from Chequers Live? Are you quite sure, Prime Minister? So they can't edit what I say, I would feel that the BBC was at least trying to be fair.
Especially if the interview was the last item, so I could answer all the points.
I don't see why we can't manage that.
I'll have a word.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you, Prime Minister.
He won't cancel the programme, but they'll give me the live interview at the end of it.
I really do admire your courage, Prime Minister.
Oh, God! Have I been courageous? Prime Minister, you are now committed to a live interview on the top political programme of the week without any idea of how you're going to explain away any of the current crises.
What will I say? "Goodbye"? Are you serious? Yes, Prime Minister.
Brought to you by
Previous EpisodeNext Episode