‘Ryanair will continue to defend the right of girls to take their clothes off’

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Congratulations to Ryanair. The low-cost airline has produced another edition of its low-cost calendar (company staff in bikinis, that kind of thing) and sent copies of it to all sorts of people around Europe who have complained in the past about the airline’s sexist attitude.

“Ryanair will continue to defend the right of girls to take their clothes off, particularly when it is for charity,” is what the airline reckons. Agree or not, you can’t help but admire the airline’s chutzpah.

They didn’t even seem to mind about the fact that the day the photos came out, featuring girls draped over wings, and in engines, one of the their planes had to make an emergency landing.

There were no serious injuries reported. But the cause? Birds in the engine. Interest rate cuts, banks being told to fall into line and lower their mortgage rates. Good stuff from the Treasury. After all, with the base rate falling and Libor following it (so far at least) money should get cheaper for all of us. Shame Alistair Darling had to call all the banks into his office for a breakfast barracking to get it done, but it seems they saw the light.

Now that the banks have dropped their interest rates the question that remains is whether the Government will do the same. The Treasury is currently planning to squeeze a fixed 12pc annual dividend out of the banks, likely to be HBOS, RBS and Lloyds TSB, that take taxpayers’ money in the form of preference shares. With the base rate at 3pc, what chance the Treasury will cut the rate?

“It’s got nothing to do with it,” the Treasury spinner tells me amid much coughing and spluttering. “The two things are entirely separate.”