Bernard Ingham: From fat cats to the EU, it's time we put our foot down or Jeremy Corbyn will end up in power

PURSUING my New Year resolution to look on the bright side, I have decided what needs to be done to help me in the months to come.

Can Theresa May provide the leadership that Britain needs?

To start with, Theresa May should be telling heads of state and government in the EU that if they persist in trying to split up the UK with their tiresome “backstop” over Northern Ireland, they won’t get a penny from us.

No sovereign state can tolerate such interference in its internal affairs.

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She should add that the same applies if our trade with the EU is disrupted after March 29 – or if there is any other funny business.

Such defiance would make over half the nation – and especially myself – proud to be British again.

Next, my spirits will be raised if the Government tackles head-on this mania in the public sector for blaming it for their failure to live within their budgets.

I suggest that the Chancellor should tell public sector bosses that they will forfeit one per cent of their current means for every recorded carp.

Councillors who for decades have been incapable of living within their budgets will similarly lose one per cent of their “allowances” for every confirmed witter.

All this is calculated to improve management which is frankly cavalier and weak-kneed in the bargain when 
the obsessive single-issues zealots get to work on them.

My next mission is to improve the quality of central Government itself.

Cabinet ministers are generally insecure in their ideology.

They pay lip service to the need to control public spending and balance the nation’s budget – while slamming in demands for more money at every public expenditure round.

We need not an Iron Chancellor but a tungsten-hardened boss in the Treasury who gets inordinate pleasure out of saying “No, not a penny more”.

In case the private sector thinks it 
is off the hook, I should say that in 24 years in the Government service, I marvelled at the brass neck of overpaid executives.

While extolling the virtues of good housekeeping – especially when Margaret Thatcher was around – they demanded every incentive under the sun, including, of course tax cuts.

I have never understood why anybody earning more than the Prime Minister’s £150,000 needs an incentive to do a 
good job.

All these millions these hypocrites take home in a year are outrageous and a much fiercer generation of shareholders would gladden my heart.

This brings me to the concept of service to the customer.

I was once daft enough to tell American correspondents during the 1980s that Margaret Thatcher thought service in Britain was improving. They laughed me to scorn.

They said the UK did not know the meaning of the word.

Well, it has got infinitely worse thanks to the internet providing an excuse for cutting costs.

It is not just the banks who will expect us pensioners – and technological illiterates – to go to their single office in the City of London, given the pace of branch closures.

It’s the blasted telephone systems of companies generally.

They say they value my business and then make it virtually impossible to do it with them what with telephone “options” and interminable waits.

It is time Britain’s capitalists realised that their behaviour is positively propelling Jeremy Corbyn into No 10.

They would deserve no less – but the people wouldn’t.

And it is time they thought of others rather than their precious selves.

I am afraid double standards are rife and my mission is to eradicate them.

I have got my work cut out when you contemplate the grasping state of soccer.

Professional football is, I fear, no longer a sport but a form of extortion which is hopelessly out of control.

That extortion extends to parents whose offspring naturally want to walk out with their team as mascots but now face the prospect of being charged hundreds upon hundreds of pounds for the privilege.

This is such a racket that ordinary working-class lads are priced out of the market, even though they provide the grassroots talent that keeps the game going – or would if top clubs employed Englishmen any more. This reminds me of the problem of immigration, which we need to control far better than we do.

But where is the political leader who has yet stood up and given the governments of every nation in Africa and the Middle East a real telling-off for being entirely responsible for the exodus?

If assorted brutish and corrupt dictators valued their people, our problem would be largely solved.

It is only if we tell it as it is that the future will brighten.