Phil Collins If He Was Withered By A Curse – Big Ben’s Not Bonging, Brexit Fallout returns and a chat with Otto English about what is Dominic Cummings

Released on Tuesday, January 21st, 2020.

Phil Collins If He Was Withered By A Curse – Big Ben’s Not Bonging, Brexit Fallout returns and a chat with Otto English about what is Dominic Cummings

There’s no money for old rope attached to old bells, or however Big Ben works, as Brexit will have to happen in silence next week which feels appropriate. This week’s podcast is full of noise though, with Brexit Fallout returning and a chat with Otto English (@otto_english) all about who, or maybe what, is Dominic Cummings and why oh why should we care?






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Further Reading

Linear liner notes

There’s no money for old rope attached to old bells, or however Big Ben works, as Brexit will have to happen in silence next week which feels appropriate. This week’s podcast is full of noise though, with Brexit Fallout returning and a chat with Otto English (@otto_english) all about who, or maybe what, is Dominic Cummings and why oh why should we care?

Links and sources of info from Otto’s interview:

All the usual ParPolBro stuff:




Hello and welcome to the Partly Political Broadcast, the comedy politics podcast that holds a mirror up to society, but it’s a two way mirror, I’ve got it the wrong way round and all you can see is me, unaware I’m being watched and trying to pick spinach out of my teeth. I’m Tiernan Douieb and this week political discourse appears to be focused on whether or not half a million pounds should be raised in order for Big Ben’s bell to Bong on Brexit day, when they could just use one of the alarm bells that’s been loudly ringing for the last three years.


Prime Minister and salt grit bin empty apart from an outdated Christmas cracker joke Boris Johnson asked the public ‘Bung A Bob for A Big Ben Bong’ but no one asked him if he was ok and was he having a stroke. Of course, an iconic bell doing its well-known hour indication noise is an appropriate way to mark the UK’s departure from the European Union, as it’s much like a death knell. Perhaps on as it hits midnight on December 31st later this year and the transition period ends, instead of the standard New Year’s fireworks we can have a muffled funeral toll followed by a waah waah waah noise on a kazoo. Better yet, why not just cellotape a croissant to a pig and have novelty bath plug Mark Francois chase it out of London while Emile Sande sings the Benny Hill theme into a traffic cone.


Due to repairs currently taking place on the palace of Westminster, Big Ben hasn’t rung for two years and the cost of getting it to do so for this one occasion would be nearly £500,000, especially as there’s only days to go and it’d all be a bit last minute. Costing far too much money and being done with little thought, planning or time for something that’d ultimately be pretty underwhelming and disappointing? Maybe it is the perfect way to signal Brexit after all. But it’s not going to happen as the repair work is too tricksy, the House of Commons has no way of collecting public donations and more than anything, the Prime Minister said it could happen so we all know that’s an automatic understanding that it never will. Instead a giant clock face will be projected on Big Ben because Johnson is the best at pretending things will go forward when we all know, underneath, they’re broken and haven’t moved for years. But don’t worry as waking yawning chasm Nigel Farage has received approval to hold his own Brexit party in Parliament Square and after their election result they probably need someone to embrace them. Nice to think that based on the people who attended Farage’s last Brexit outing, a march that resembled a poorly attended meat raffle, that going to an outdoor party at the end of January might mean that for many of them they’ll get to see a pretend clock carry them out of the EU just before they get hyperthermia.


But while there won’t be a new custom of Big Ben ringing in an independent UK, in the way that a castaway on an island after a shipwreck is independent, there will be loads of new customs at airports and docks and the like, which will also work on the basis of time and require money just not in the way most businesses would like. Announced by Chancellor and Morph’s unloved brother Sajid Javid, it seems the Treasury will not be helping businesses as they have to adjust to the new regulations that they haven’t been told about yet, because they’ve had three years to prepare for systems that don’t actually exist yet. Yeah you tell ‘em Javid, I mean what kind of losers would spend three years faffing about completely unsure of what to do about Brexit? I mean really on that basis; the Treasury shouldn’t be helping the government either and maybe Javid and pals should just have to learn to adjust. Who wants to align with EU regulations anyway? I mean they’re only our main buyers and suppliers of food, cars and pharmaceuticals so if anything, being held up for ages at check points means all that food will become its own penicillin and save us some cash. Maybe it’ll reduce car emissions what with them all being stuck inside lorries that are idling their engines when stuck in queues at the borders? It’s all part of what the government is calling ‘levelling up the economy’ which I take to mean raise its difficulty level so it’s no longer any fun for anyone who can’t afford to take the time to play it properly. That sort of language is proof that the budget is being at least in part dictated by the Prime Minister’s special advisor and only man who’s Nintendo Mii is the default one but with the hair removed Dominic Cummings, a man who definitely bases how life should be on computer games and no doubt spends nights playing Call of Duty online just so he can swear at children in other countries. Everything is going to be levelled up, but much like most games, far too much money will be spent on bonuses and extra content, there will be several policies that involve government departments researching where an old druid is living so you can hand him an ancient mask in exchange for a clue and ultimately in the real world it will achieve absolutely nothing at all.


But while businesses have to just adjust, failing airline FlyBe, its name based on the two insects it resembles, one that only lands in shit places and the other that’s dying out, has been bailed out by £100m despite it knowing for 40 years that not enough people use it. The bail out money isn’t bail out money as such, but instead a deferring of its air passenger duty payments, you know the money that’s supposed to offset environmental impact. Which might be ok, once we’re no longer in line with EU regulations and it’s all balanced out by a complete lack of flights to anywhere else in the world as we sanction ourselves. Look, of course the government want more cheap flights available as otherwise it’ll cost a ton to deport all the EU citizens after Brexit. Health Secretary and what if Olaf from the Frozen films was even more unlikable Matt Hancock said during an interview that we shouldn’t be flying less, which is unfortunate to hear from a man whose opinions are so rarely grounded as it is. Take his solution to the NHS hitting its worst figure on the four-hour waiting targets this winter. According to Hancock the best way to deal with that is just to scrap the waiting targets. Yes brilliant, how can a hospital fail to meet its targets if they just don’t exist? Similarly, Matt, why not just remove the clinical definition of death and then the NHS can have a 100% hit rate in keeping patients alive? Why not get rid of all hospital beds and then they’ll never be short for them? Or perhaps scrap doctors and nurses entirely and then that way the NHS can’t be understaffed if it’s not meant to have staff in the first place?


But that’s what Johnson’s government is all about, thinking that is so outside the box that you’ve forgotten where the box is, you can’t see it anymore and you’re nowhere near the factory and instead lost in a field, cold and alone. Meanwhile the box hasn’t passed the standards to be sold for export in the first place. It’s that sort of mindset that means the House of Lords might be moved to York or perhaps Birmingham because nothing will help the economy of those areas like a bunch of peers who get paid to barely show up to work. If anything, moving the Lords to York could really damage the local business as the Jorvic Viking Centre is meant to be a time warp representation of the past, but with a second chamber round the corner, people will be able to just go there and see slow moving, out of date waxworks that smell a bit funny all for free. There’s also a question of just how long the opening of parliament will take if Black Rod and the Queen’s procession has to drive up the M1 all day. This is all part of a constitutional review that will be happening in the spring that will also look at considering the powers and role of the Supreme Court, which is funny as Johnson really didn’t consider them much back in September, and the House of Commons going on tour, but no word on if there’ll be support acts of any naked XR protestors in the public gallery, any guest stars of past politics, a merch stand selling prints of old bills, or if they’ll be doing new stuff or playing to the crowd with greatest hits such as the Letwin Amendment or that time aged Chucky from Rugrats Lloyd Russel Moyle grabbed the ceremonial mace. Hopefully if it sells out they’ll do all the festivals in the summer followed by a series of dates in Europe. Oh. Oh well. Conservative Party chairman and British version of Zippy The Pinhead James Cleverly said they were looking at a whole range of options to make sure every part of the UK feels properly connected to politics. Sure, but it might help if your leader actually turned up to the odd interview here and there.


One part of the UK the Conservatives aren’t that keen on connecting with is Scotland as the Prime Minister has rejected calls for a second independence vote saying that First Minister and playmobil figure Nicola Sturgeon pledged that the 2014 referendum would be a once in a generation vote. Ok but under the last ten years of Conservative governments life expectancy has dropped and it was already so low in Glasgow anyway, that means 6 years after the last one is probably about right.


In the Labour Party leadership race the first hustings happened in Liverpool on Saturday, with all candidates talking about how the party needed to stick together before all pointing out why they were the best and everyone else smells. Afterwards there were complaints from candidates rejected Teletubby Lisa Nandy and woman who doesn’t think she has any friends who are energy vampires even though they all say they do Jess Phillips, both complaining that the format of answering a question in 40 seconds isn’t enough. This is true, though at least for Nandy saying ‘towns’ lots takes up less time than Phillips repeating her own name on end which she’d only be able to fit in 20-30 times. Meanwhile small face meme Rebecca Long Bailey launched her campaign with a pledge to end the gentleman’s club of politics, which would be hard when the House of Commons is so full of tits. And the first candidate to get the support to go to the final round and what if the shape of water found hair gel Keir Starmer has made it through with backing from Usdaw the shopworker’s union, and if anyone is going to assist you, it’ll be them.


While there’s still about 700 years of not very exciting hustings before we get a new Labour leader, the Lib Dems say they won’t have a leader till July as that’s when they bloom, before wilting again in the winter, which is what happened to their last leader. But its ok because one of their acting leaders is jumble shop Tobey Jug Ed Davey who has blamed the Lib Dems election defeat on current Labour leader and someone made a thumb print in that drying concrete Jeremy Corbyn. Does he not understand how elections work? Davey said that people were so worried about a hard-left government that they voted Tory instead of Lib Dem to avoid it happening because they really hated Corbyn. Sure, and where was Ed when the Lib Dems were making highlighting that view of Corbyn part of their campaign? Maybe they should all become Labour members and vote for a leader that might help them along?


In other news the Department of Work and Pensions have finally repaid the disability allowance of 5000 people who were given benefits that were too small, but only after they’d already died. The DWP have apologized for their errors, meaning that nearly 600,000 received less support than they should before sending out letters to all the deceased telling them they’ve been found fit for work.


Boris Johnson has announced that the UK’s post Brexit immigration system will be fairer as it will treat people the same wherever they’re from, which translated likely means no one can come here unless they have hard cash. Johnson says it’ll put people before passports but I’m really not sure how that’ll work at airport check in. And transport secretary and chin with hair Grant Shapps has responded to a leaked report claiming HS2 service could cost double what they thought at £106bn, by asking for more data. Except knowing Shapps this is just to create a new identity with it then escape the country so someone else has to deal with it.


In Russia, Neil Hannon with mumps and President Vladimir Putin is trying to push through reforms that will allow him to remain in power indefinitely, which resulted in the government resigning and the country now having a new prime minister, a man no one had heard of until days ago. Putin says the changes will bring power closer to the people but if that’s really what he wants, why not quit politics and get a job as an electrician?


And the last decade has been confirmed as the warmest on record, with last year being the 2nd hottest on record, after 2014 when I bought those shorts that showed my knees off. What does this mean for us hoomins? Extreme weather events, further extinction of species and sadly more massive bushfires or whatever it is Gwyneth Paltrow is calling her latest product.




I did this bit without writing it first this week and it did not go well.

On this week’s show, I am speaking to Otto English about just what Dominic Cummings is and does, and Brexit fallout returns, I’m sure you’re pleased. But first, eat this but with your ears:





What on earth is a special advisor? Someone who just warns you of what’s on the chalk board at a restaurant? An advisor who was over praised by parents and needs that sort of patronizing support at work or they can’t function? Or maybe just a shiny advisor that you only get one of in every 40 packs? In the current government’s case, the Prime Minister’s special advisor is Dominic Cummings, a man known for looking like if Phil Collins had been withered by a curse. But he’s also known for both running the successful Leave campaign in the EU referendum but also for walking into Number 10 with his trousers falling down and showing his arse. No not Boris, his other one. He’s known for hating the elites, while definitely being one of them and for being played by member of the Doctor Who villains The Silent Benedict Cumberbatch, in Brexit: The Uncivil War even though his politics suggest he’d have been a better fit for Endgame. Just recently he made the news after posting a job advert on his blog asking for super talented weirdos and misfits with odd skills, like he was going to start his own X-Men team only one that isn’t a metaphor for racism but an advocate and would likely tell Professor X he has to do workfare in a Poundshop to receive his benefits. Cummings is supposedly behind everything the current government is doing, directing the upcoming budget, advising Johnson on what to do and generally being the shadowy figure in charge, and by shadowy, I mean of a very grey complexion. Yet at the same time, everything he says or does makes it appear like he’d struggle to leave the house unless his mum helped him get dressed. So, should we be looking to him to see where the next five years of Conservative government might go? Or is he a walking dead cat, or at least, that’s what he models his appearance on?


This week I thought it’d be useful to delve into just what Dominic Cummings or Dom Cum as no one will ever call him and wow, now I feel a bit sick, is actually all about. Is there a motive there, or just an irate neglected child that’s been made Lord of the Flies by Prime Minister piggy? So I spoke to Otto English, political tweeter and journalist, who has recently written a few pieces on Cummings upbringing for the Byline Times. I asked Otto all about whether we should be wary of the PM’s Spesh Advisy, or largely forget he’s there even though that could leave you susceptible to him being anywhere which actually, seems worse. And Otto told me all about when Cummings was attacked by a squirrel and lived in a bunker and all in all, the fact we’re even talking about any of this means yes, British politics is absolutely fucked. It was a lot of fun chatting with Otto so I hope you enjoy, here he is:




And we’ll be back with Otto in a minute but first…




Yes, it’s the return of Brexit Fallout because in just a few days the UK will leave the EU, sort of, kind of but not yet really. I mean to be honest, having a party about it all on January the 31st feels very premature, like celebrating a very difficult operation going successfully on the day you’re told what date it’ll be on despite knowing in 3 months time you could wake up with your face and belly swapped round and everyone calling you Belly Savalas for the rest of your life. No I don’t know what operation that’d be but that’s why I’m not a doctor and exactly why I’d be qualified to work in the current department of health. So quick facts first, yes January the 31st is sort of Brexit day in that after that date Article 50 cannot be extended, the UK is no longer part of the EU, can’t have a say in it, don’t get anymore funding from them, all that jazz. To be part of the EU again after the 31st we’d have to rejoin which would be a whole big shenanigans involving having the Euro and none of the dandy petulant child benefits we got while in it before because everyone thought if they let us have those we might stop being so annoying. But it’s also when the withdrawal agreement bill kicks in, a bill that as I record is currently in the House of Lords who’ve backed an amendment to make sure EU citizens get documentation for their settled status and also defeated the government on the power of British courts to depart from European Court of Justice judgements. This will then go back to the commons where there’s a Conservative majority, those will probably be removed again and bladda bladda blow, it’ll all go through in mostly the same shape, the shape that has now had bits removed that previously contained protections of worker’s rights, environmental standards or reuniting refugee children with their families. Sure they might go into domestic law but why lie to ourselves anymore and instead, let’s just assume they won’t with the potential for surprise or at least the smug satisfaction of saying, I told you it would be shit before the labor camp guard tasers us for talking again. That’s next week, with its big ben projection, like the hologram Tupac, giving people a glimpse of what it’d be like if it was actually there but in reality just costing a lot to sully the memory. Then we’re in the transition period where all those celebrating on the 31st will still have to buy bananas that aren’t bendy enough for them or hoovers that don’t waste enough electricity or phones that they can use in France. All the EU bolt-ons including EU law and free movement will be valid until the end of December this year, or longer if the transition period is extended, which it can be but the government seem adamant it won’t be because they can’t source enough ditches. So, if that’s true then from January 1st 2021 we’re properly out with whatever trading deals we’ve managed or not managed to get in the 11 months that is apparently nowhere near enough time to get a trading deal negotiated in. So that’s when the party should be though I wouldn’t want to have too much champagne as you should probably hoard it and use it as your bartering tool to swap for a loaf of bread in the following year.


I am, of course, being unnecessarily gloomy, which might not be needed but with the announcement that there will be no business alignment with the EU after Brexit, it does mean that pretty much all British businesses will struggle to sell or buy from Europe without a lot of extra checks and customs, meaning all them fancy cheeses could cost a ton more, let alone fruit, veg, cars and insulin. On the plus side, it does mean all the things we buy in from elsewhere won’t have to have any of the same health or safety regulations as before, so while your body is craving its vitamins from the vegetables you’ve lost, all the E-numbers you’ve consumed will still mean you’ve got enough energy to possibly dodge the explosion from that lamp you’ve just got. How can businesses adjust for this? Well they can’t, not until they know what the UK’s trading regulations will be and there is still very much the chance that there won’t be, if the government don’t get a trading agreement sorted and then we still just fall out with no deal like a dead monkey in a tree, one that died from boredom hearing about how the Brexit negotiations are going. The current government plan is to agree some things then work out the rest as they go on after this year, with trade in goods, security and fishing rights being priorities because the latter only makes up a full 0.1% of the economy but the narrative is that we’re a big shark in a small pond because every globe in Number 10 is built so everything else revolves around us. After that, trading agreements on everything else could go on for years, and in 2024, Stormont gets to vote whether the Irish Sea border that’s going on should go for another four or eight years and yeah, get Brexit done could potentially be Johnson’s campaign slogan in the next three elections.


The government have promised no immediate deportation of EU citizens, even though Home Office Minister and Sam Gamgee’s washed up corpse Brandon Lewis said valid immigration rules will be applied if they haven’t registered by the end of June 2021. At the moment there are 900,000 EU citizens in the UK who haven’t yet applied but let’s face it, they may be waiting to see how things go then be desperate for a free flight back to the EU once Brexit kicks in. Pre-settled status applies to any EU citizens who’ve been in the UK less than 5 years and allows them to stay for another 5. But let’s face it, I’d say everyone who’s applied or not would be more adequately represented if they could apply for ‘really fucking unsettled’ status, as would a good chunk of British people.


Bloomberg Economics has calculated that by the end of 2020, Brexit will have cost the UK £200bn, which is just £15bn off the entire amount of money it’s cost the UK to be in the EU since 1973. But at least we’ve taken control of spending that money rather than giving it to the EU to spend for us by investing a large amount of it back into the EU. Idiots, with this £200bn, we as British people have frittered it away like heroes of money. Yeah, we’ll show you mum, I mean, EU. We’ll get takeaways every night, you’ll see. You won’t be able to put that money into areas desperate for development or environmental protections because haha we’ll have spent it on Playstation games. I can still drop our washing round though yeah?



And now, back to Otto…




Thanks tons to Otto for that. You can find him on Twitter @otto_english, his website is on which, if you read the about section you’ll see why he uses the pseudonym Otto English instead of his real name, Andrew, and it’s a very fun tale. And you can find a number of his articles both investigative and fun satirical at or Big thanks to Ruby, Chris and several others who all asked I interviewed someone about Dominic Cummings, so I did. Merry Christmas.


Thanks to all of you who’ve sent in suggestions of who to interview and subjects to find people to interview about. I’ve contacted loads of them and hopefully I’ve got the next few weeks all lined up. But I need more. I hunger forever for your political topic suggestions please satiate my really strange appetite that they don’t cater for in restaurants. There is no special month for this diet of curiosity! Guestbruary? No that doesn’t work. Yes I’ll stop now. If you’ve got them tasty recommendations please send them to @parpolbro on Twitter, the Partly Political Broadcast Facebook group, the contact page at or email me at Or maybe raise £500,000 and get a large clock to shout your suggestion at me on an arbitrary date of celebratory choosing and I probably won’t hear because I don’t live near Westminster and no one will be in the vicinity to hear it either apart from maybe Nigel Farage and a poorly attended meat raffle and they won’t understand it. So, as always, it’s probably just best to email isn’t it?





And that’s all for this week’s Partly Political Broadcast podcast. Thanks for listening with your side head holes, or even your other head holes if you’ve got them skills. I mean, why not play this up your nose and have a weird sinus sound session? It is 2020, we’ve got to get innovative with this future time. In between popping air pods up your airwaves, do tell others should you enjoy this show, maybe even post about it online somewhere? And if you’re making the effort, why not go the whole hog or at least small piglet and review it on your podcast app of choice or donate to the ko-fi or Patreon too.


Big cheers to Acast for hosting this show on its pod platform, my brother The Last Skeptik for all the plinky plonk sounds and Kat Day for the linear liner notes.


This will be back next week when its announced that actually you can only level up the economy if you pre-order the expanded package with the bonus features and everyone else has to have a budget economy that won’t work on your old defunct system.




This week’s show was sponsored by Farage’s Brexit Party Anthems album featuring the sounds of cold January wind and rain, most of the songs used in Billy Elliot, a vuvuzela being played somewhere in Essex, a man trying to not be allowed into France but very much being allowed in, the Macarena, Kevin punching a lump of brie, and foot and mouth disease played on a lute. Farage’s Brexit Party Anthems for you to celebrate on January 31st as the UK is still very much covered by EU law but not if you don’t say it out loud.


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