Can Boris Johnson survive three scandals at the same time?

JANET STREET-PORTER: Boris has survived scandals that would have finished any other politician but can even he survive three at the same time?

Partygate – triggered by revelations surrounding a Downing Street party held on December 18 last year- shows no sign of going away. 

With details emerging about other Whitehall office parties held while the country was in lockdown (and such gatherings were banned), public anger is reflected in the polls.

The shine has well and truly worn off Brand Boris – one poll shows 63% think he should resign. In another, Labour has a four-point lead, their best rating since the 2019 General Election.

We’ve always suspected that Boris operates within a special version of the truth. Now Partygate shows how the deep rot has spread to those around him, as minister after minister previously claimed this event had ‘never taken place’.

The shine has well and truly worn off Brand Boris – one poll shows 63% think he should resign. In another, Labour has a four-point lead, their best rating since the 2019 General Election

We’ve always suspected that Boris operates within a special version of the truth. Now Partygate shows how the deep rot has spread to those around him, as minister after minister previously claimed this event had ‘never taken place’. (Above, the PM arriving at hospital on Thursday, after the birth of his baby daughter)

For days, they paraded on TV and radio claiming there were no parties, then – when it emerged that was not true – they spouted ‘no rules were broken’ and started talking about ‘gatherings’ instead.

Yes, they must think we’re a bunch of mugs.

I was furious (as was every person I’ve spoken to) as details filtered out. 

My fellow Loose Woman, Christine Bleakley was ‘incandescent’ – she had spent Xmas 2020 alone without her parents or husband Frank Lampard who was working abroad. 

She was just one of millions of Brits who had a miserable festive period.

The full extent of the double standards, the yawning chasm between politicians and party workers and how the rest of us dutifully conduct our lives during a pandemic is now being exposed.

My fellow Loose Woman, Christine Bleakley (above) was ‘incandescent’ – she had spent Xmas 2020 alone without her parents or husband Frank Lampard who was working abroad. She was just one of millions of Brits who had a miserable festive period

While we sat at home and stuck to the rules, we discover that on Fridays, Downing Street staff regularly had a table set with wine so they could enjoy drinks at their desks to celebrate the ‘end of the week’. 

Not something normal workplaces were doing in November and December 2020 as it contravened guidelines.

But these ‘special’ people have different rules to the rest of us, just like Boris bends the truth.

In Toryland, such secret privileges pass without comment.

In Tier 3 last November and early December, and then Tier 4, the rest of the nation cancelled office parties, didn’t mingle and celebrated the festive season at home alone.

In Tory Towers, life was very different. 

There was a leaving do at Downing Street on November 27 at which Boris Johnson gave a speech. A party at the Department of Education on December 10, another ‘raucous’ event for the Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey at Tory party headquarters on December 14 at which a door got broken. 

According to deposed advisor Dominic Cummings, there were parties upstairs at the Prime Minister’s flat hosted by Carrie, and during December, a Christmas Quiz was held with officials and advisors taking part in Downing Street offices.

The recurring charge that Boris can be elastic with the truth when it comes to funding his private life, his holidays and his home decorations, is borne out by revelations that he messaged the Tory donor who paid for redecorating the Downing Street flat. 

The Prime Minister has always claimed he ‘didn’t know’ who paid, but now a WhatsApp message he sent to the Tory donor asking for the works to go ahead has emerged, and Lord Geidt, who carried out an inquiry into the cost of the project, is said to be furious.

Thank God Boris Johnson was not in charge of the weather bulletins during the recent storms – we’d be getting forecasts at random times of the day and night telling us it was a heatwave.

Just like the conflicting advice we’ve been given to wear a mask most of the time but not if you want to sing carols or drink a pint.

There are headless chickens squawking behind the filing cabinets hoping they won’t be sacked. Allegra Stratton (above), the world’s most disastrous political PR, has already shuffled off sobbing in front of an incredulous bunch of journos, and she won’t be the last

There’s no need to buy a ticket for the panto at the Palladium, the Hackney Empire or Wimbledon theatres this year – real-life events playing out behind the doors at 10 Downing Street are equally side-splitting.

There are headless chickens squawking behind the filing cabinets hoping they won’t be sacked. 

Allegra, the world’s most disastrous political PR, has already shuffled off sobbing in front of an incredulous bunch of journos, and she won’t be the last.

As for the boss – just back from donning a uniform to that macho Drug Bust in Liverpool – he’s been blessed with a lovely new baby daughter along with a massive headache.

Video of his aides joking about the party that ‘never was’ resulted in a grovelling apology in the Commons on Wednesday – although he still seemed to be evasive about whether or not it actually took place, hoping that asking a civil servant to handle an inquiry might make the criticism go away.

As for the boss – just back from donning a uniform to that macho Drug Bust in Liverpool – he’s been blessed with a lovely new baby daughter along with a massive headache

Later that day, a new set of confusing Covid Plan B restrictions were rushed out as a diversionary tactic – supplying ample proof (as if any more was needed) that the chaotic clown in Downing Street couldn’t run a pie and mash shop let alone the hub of governance in the UK. 

You have to wear a mask to a nightclub, a cinema and a theatre, but not a pub or a restaurant.

The ultimate Marmite politician has reached a crossroads, with up to 60 Tory MPs saying they will vote against imposing the new restrictions next Tuesday.

Consider his plus points: the Prime Minister is charismatic with huge people skills. He has a brand like no other. He’s madly enthusiastic, a libertarian who hates excessive rules and regulations. He also wants to be loved.

All these qualities are endearing and won over Labour voters in the North and waverers all over the country at the last election. Yes, his bombast secured Brexit as the man who said he ‘got things done’ delivered what Mrs May failed to.

But – on the negative side – there’s the blathering and waffle (masking a failure to grasp detail), his incapacity to make timely decisions and the dithering that have brought his time as Prime Minister to crisis point. 

The Peppa Pig speech was a catastrophe. Suddenly, Boris stopped being a comic turn, and became a liability, just as a new strain of Covid took hold.

Not only was there a party, but the invitation was circulated on WhatsApp well in advance, there was wine and food and Secret Santa gifts. Various officials made speeches, including Jack Doyle (pictured), the PM’s director of communications – one of the people who has been saying there was ‘no party’

He has squandered his considerable charisma with a series of sloppy decisions, seeming to think he can bounce back. First, the public was asked to accept that Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle during lockdown was not a sacking offence.

Now, we are expected to believe Boris was unaware that while he was pontificating, Churchill-style at his briefing room lectern and ordering us to be sensible, stay at home and not mingle – parties were being held by his staff, breaking the very rules he was ordering outsiders to comply with.

After details of the secret December 18 2020 Downing Street party emerged, the Ministers blandly promoting the official denials look like craven fools unable to think for themselves.

Not only was there a party, but the invitation was circulated on WhatsApp well in advance, there was wine and food and Secret Santa gifts. 

Various officials made speeches, including Jack Doyle, the PM’s director of communications – one of the people who has been saying there was ‘no party’.

I suppose if you work for the Tories – the kind of people who will nitpick about whether a toilet is a WC or lavatory but never a loo – you have your own ‘special’ language in which an illegal party of several dozen workers designated a ‘gathering’. 

The word ‘gathering’ almost has religious connotations – an event where no germs were spread because these attendees are ‘special’ people.

Now, we know that these ‘special people’ think the rules that the rest of us have been trying to follow just don’t apply to them. 

I hope every person who was fined for breaking Covid rules in November and December 2020 will now receive a refund from the Bank of Boris.

And maybe it’s time for the bloke who once said he wanted to be ‘King of the World’ to think about bowing out to spend more time with the Pampers.

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