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A dickie bird at the Treasury tells me the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has become obsessed with eating orange jelly. When this Whitehall civil servant ran into one of Osborne’s unfortunate flunkies recently in the corridors of power, she rolled her eyes and confirmed that, yet again, she had been despatched to stock up on jelly supplies from the canteen.
The Chancellor’s much commmented-upon weight gain is thought to be the result of all that late-night pizza he and his Lib-Dem sidekick Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, have to order in after tortuous budget-cut meetings.
It’s thought they have hit upon orange jelly as a low-calorie snack which they may recommend to us all in these difficult economic times. Jelly contains lots of sugar but no protein. It is feared it may make the pair hyperactive. Significantly, orange is the Lib-Dem colour, and the colour of Alexander’s hair.
Orange jelly contains Sunset yellow (E110), which is not a good thing. It’s a synthetic yellow azo dye, which must be heat-treated. Found in orange jelly and squash, swiss roll, apricot jam, hot chocolate mix, packet soups and canned fish, it is banned in Norway and Finland but not in Colonsay, the Hebridean island Alexander comes from.
“I think it’s a positively good thing that Osborne likes jelly,” says my budget-cutting informant. “It has made me feel far more fondly towards him, as though he is simply a small, excitable child — perhaps in a Roald Dahl book.”
John Major used to like jelly and peas when he was Chancellor but, combined with his family’s history in the music hall and the manufacture of garden gnomes, this only made people snigger.
Like Lib-Dem economic policies, jelly is notoriously difficult to nail to a wall.