Tory MPs have set about defending Boris Johnson, but it hasn't exactly gone to plan. Image: Sky News/Channel 4 News
With the end of the second full month of Partygate looming, Sue Gray’s report is expected to drop any minute, the police have announced they’re investigating Downing Street parties, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to resign every single day.
It can be hard to keep on top of all of the revelations, what with there being so many, so here’s a list of them – or the ones we know about anyway.
In sum, it’s a tough time for the government as Johnson battles to save his premiership. That requires loyal Tories to go out to bat for him.
And aren’t they doing well.
‘He was ambushed with a cake’
A brave showing from Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, who went on Channel 4 News and admitted he knew as much about the situation as people at home
This wasn’t enough to stop him, though, as he whipped out the immortal line: “He was ambushed with a cake.”
“I am told, under some authority, indeed from him [Johnson], that there actually wasn’t a cake,” Burns told The Telegraph on January 27.
The question then follows, the reporter asked, that what is a birthday party without a cake? “A meeting,” came the reply.
So you can’t be ambushed by a cake if there was no cake to begin with, and there was no party if there was no cake. Clear?
Let’s just forget that The Times reported in the summer of 2020: “Boris Johnson celebrated his 56th birthday yesterday with a small gathering in the cabinet room. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and a group of aides sang him Happy Birthday before they tucked into a Union Jack cake.”
‘He’s not robbed a bank’
Romford MP Andrew Rosindell’s strategy on Sky News was to point out that Johnson’s alleged misdeeds pale in comparison to, say, armed robbery.
He said: “I’m sure there are ministers that get parking tickets and speeding fines. Lots of people break the law in small ways, and sometimes unintentionally. He’s not robbed a bank. This is getting out of control.”
A penny for Chris Huhne’s thoughts.
‘The government is going from strength to strength’
With the PM facing daily calls to resign, a Tory MP defecting to Labour for the first time in two decades, and the police now investigating alleged law breaking in Downing Street, it could be easy to think the current moment is a low point for the government.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, however, assures us otherwise. He told reporters outside Number 10 that “the government is going from strength to strength.”
‘The prime minister doesn’t really own his own diary’
Defence minister James Heappey went out to bat for the PM on Radio 4 on January 19, declaring that “the prime minister doesn’t really own his own diary”.
“He spends his day bouncing from high level meeting to high level meeting,” Heappey said, so Johsnon really wouldn’t have known where he was going or what he was doing next. How’s that for restoring trust and authority in the country’s leader.
‘If that’s the kind of parties you go to, they’re not much fun, are they?’
Peter Bone, in a classic bit of 11pm Newsnight argy-bargy, claimed the parties are “not an issue on the doorstep” on January 24.
He added “I don’t recognise this as a party” – getting so close to realising that people are angry because they were criminalised for doing the kind of things now being passed off as trivial.
Bone rounded off the exchange by telling presenter Kirsty Wark: “If that’s the kind of parties you go to, they’re not much fun, are they?”
‘Even a serial killer gets his day in court’
Martin Vickers, the MP for Cleethorpes, rushed to the PM’s defence by saying “even a serial killer gets his day in court.”
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