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Spare us the endless Psychodrama Partygate

Spare us the endless Psychodrama Partygate

 


Just when you thought it was safe to wipe the words “cake ambushed” from your mental hard drive, “Partygate” rears its ugly head once again. Dread it, run away from it, the tragicomedy of Boris Johnson catches up with you all the same.

The Cabinet Office referred the ex-Prime Minister to police over fresh allegations he broke lockdown rules during his time as Prime Minister. Visits by his friends and family to Checkers during times when Covid restrictions were in place were discovered in his departmental diary.

The reason they were discovered is because the Cabinet Office is currently paying for Johnson’s legal advice ahead of the next investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic. Johnson denies any rules were broken, but the Mandy Rice-Davies rules apply.

Naturally, the jacobites are out in force. Johnson’s supporters were quick to blame Rishi Sunak and Oliver Dowden, the minister in charge of the Cabinet Office, for a “witch hunt” against their man. These claims do little to help his position before the Privileges Committee renders its verdict.

Threats have been made to “hinder” the Sunaks government, including asking three loyalist MPs to get Johnson’s peerages to step down from their seats to trigger a by-election that the government is likely to lose. There were also the predictable dark whispers about “incoming letters” to Graham Brady, a man who really needs to feeling too old for this shit NOW.

Unsurprisingly, these frenzied briefings drew irritation from Number 10 and amusement from fellow MPs. Ministers deny being involved in the decision to hand over the newspapers to the police. MPs remember the mood of the last days in Saigon at the end of Johnson’s term and apart from a few Hiroo Onodas have little desire to trade it for the return to normality (and sanity) that Sunak has brought.

Nevertheless, I was struck by Peter Cruddas argument thinks Henry Bolingbroke, without wig or literary talent in his acerbic defense of the King across the water in THE Telegraph. I’m not the biggest fan of conservative Democratic organizations, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

In the same week that our national life has been diminished by the Suella Braverman non-scandal, Cruddas is right to point out that something is happening in Whitehall. Priti Patel, Dominic Raab, Braverman and now, maybe, Johnson. East the blob trying to attract conservative politicians he doesn’t like?

Conspiratorial thinking can be pushed too far. Each case should be considered on its own merits. The Sue Gray report, which some say was aimed at getting Johnson, was something of a whitewash. Nevertheless, ministers must be able to feel that they can trust their officials. stories like this add to the story that the public service has somehow gone rogue.

Cruddas also floats the idea of ​​a “general Covid amnesty for those deemed to have committed petty offences” of the “type which in normal times would be considered the fundamental exercise of liberty”. The idea is attractive, and not just for former prime ministers with a reputation to save.

The Covid regulations were in place at a specific time to deal with a specific crisis that the WHO has now decreed is over. Those fined for eating a kebab on a pub crawl or driving to Cheltenham without an excuse have been victims of ridiculous rules that have stripped us of our fundamental freedoms and have often been applied arbitrarily. To draw a line under this period would be a moment of national catharsis.

But, like Yuan Yi Zhu pointed out, this can no longer happen while the Conservatives are in power. For what? Partygate, of course. Why would Sunak court the public opprobrium associated with a measure that will only ever be presented as an apology for his prequel predecessor? It didn’t do Gerald Ford much good.

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