The Spectator

Barometer | 4 July 2019

Barometer | 4 July 2019
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Model hobbies

Asked what he did to relax, Boris Johnson claimed that he liked to make model buses. Some others who share his hobby:

— Rod Stewart is a keen railway-modeller who claims to have a set the size of a tennis court at his Beverly Hills home.

— Jools Holland, Roger Daltrey and Pete Waterman are all into model railways.

— Model buses are a more rarefied taste. But if he isn’t already, Boris could consider joining the Model Bus Federation, which has represented the hobby since 1968. Its national show and AGM will be held in Tewkesbury on Saturday 5 October, just after the Conservative party conference.

Who pays?

Boris Johnson wants to raise the threshold for the 40 per cent rate of tax from £50,000 to £80,000. How many people pay tax?

1990/91 - 2018/19

Taxpayers

26.1m - 31.7m

Higher rate (40%)

1.7m - 4.3m

Top rate (45%)

438,000

Source: HMRC

Pet provisions

A 9ft pet python escaped in Cambridge. How many snakes — and other animals — are kept as pets in Britain?

Outdoor fish

20m

Indoor fish

16m

Dogs

8.5m

Cats

7.5m

Rabbits

800,000

Guinea pigs

700,000

Indoor birds

600,000

Hamsters

400,000

Lizards

300,000

Tortoises

300,000

Snakes

300,000

Source: Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association

The age of Corbyn

Civil servants were reported to be concerned that Jeremy Corbyn, who was 70 in May, is too frail to be prime minister.   When did we last have a premier over 70?

— The last was Winston Churchill, who was 77 when elected for his second term in the job in 1951 and did not leave office until he was 80. His immediate predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, also served over the age of 70, although he was 68 when elected.

— Earl Grey, Lord John Russell, Earl Aberdeen, Benjamin Disraeli, Henry Campbell-Bannerman and William Gladstone also served as PM over the age of 70. Gladstone was our oldest ever PM

by the time he left office aged 84 in 1894.

— If Corbyn became PM after 12 September, he would be Britain’s oldest-ever PM on taking office for the first time.