Consular officials faced tired and angry travellers in Madrid after coaches promised by Gordon Brown failed to materialise. The Prime Minister announced they were already in Madrid but the Foreign Office tonight admitted that the coaches would not leave Dover until tomorrow morning. A Foreign Office spokesperson said 50 coaches would leave in the morning, followed by 100 more over the coming days. They would be unlikely to begin transporting travellers back to Britain until Thursday at the earliest.
Sky News has the same story:
Mr Brown told Radio One's Newsbeat programme that people may be able to travel to Madrid as a "hub" as it has been unaffected by the volcanic ash affecting flights across Europe.
He said that people stuck in Asia, Africa and America could land in the Spanish capital before being taken back to the UK in coaches laid on by the Government.
"We're putting on coaches from Madrid," he said. "There's 100 already there in Madrid to do it."
But as thousands of delayed travellers arrived in the city, there was no sign of the promised coaches.
Was he told that 100 coaches were already in Madrid? I doubt it - civil servants are trained to avoid misleading ministers. And why tell the Prime Minister something that would so quickly be exposed as untrue?
Is it a form of Tourette's syndrome, where a minister blurts out what he would like to be true or what he thinks his listeners would like to hear, regardless of the consequences? Or does he somehow convince himself that announcing something makes it happen?
Furthermore, he has previous form.
Whatever the reason, because of this inability to distinguish the truth, he deserves to lose the election. We simply cannot have this man making up fairy stories as he goes along.