STEPHEN GLOVER: Tumultuous days lie ahead. But master escapologist Boris might wriggle free again

Stephen Glover said Boris Johnson appeared “modest and remorseful” during his apology in the House of Commons

With apologies, Boris Johnson’s show in the House of Commons wasn’t bad at all. He appeared humble and remorseful, and in saying sorry he went far beyond what erroneous politicians usually do.

He apparently did not convince the Labor or the Scottish Nats, but it was not his intention to do so. He was trying to convince his side that he hadn’t suddenly become an electoral burden.

Beyond that, he was appealing to the court of public opinion. I don’t mean hardcore Boris fans who are likely to stay with him no matter what he does. And I’m not thinking of the die-hard Labor supporters and multiple Boris haters who have already made up their minds about the prime minister.

I think of the millions of people in the middle, many of whom voted for the Conservative Party in 2019. The danger is that if they think Mr. Johnson is a serial liar on important issues, they will not vote for him again next time.

Will he win them? My guess—obviously impossible to dig into many people’s minds—is that the PM has bought himself some time with his candid show, but he’s actually very far from out of the woods.

At the heart of his confession—which, as I said, was delivered in an appropriately sober and unfortunate tone—was a disagreement that many people, including myself, would find difficult to swallow.

Boris Johnson apologized in the House of Commons for a ceremony in Downing Street on May 20, 2020.

Boris Johnson apologized in the House of Commons for a ceremony in Downing Street on May 20, 2020.

A party was held in Downing Street Park on May 20, 2020. Boris was not just a party but a ‘working event’ when, ‘after six’ that day, he walked around the garden ‘to thank the staff groups before returning to my office 25 minutes later to continue working.’

He made himself look like the stray and mindless Lord Amsworth of P.G. Wodehouse, who might have wandered outside Blandings Castle on a sunny spring evening in this way and thanked the estate workers in a similarly gentle way.

Is it credible that Boris Johnson was not aware that his chief private secretary, Martin Reynolds, had invited about a hundred people to your garden party, many of whom must have been working under the prime minister’s watch? So hard to believe

But let us, for now, give Mr. Johnson the benefit of the doubt on this outcome. Is it remotely possible that, as he did in a group of 30 or 40 people enjoying themselves, he thought they were working rather than partying?

Since the guests were asked to bring alcoholic drinks, there must have been many bottles on the tables and maybe a bottle or two on the floor. People were drinking in public. I realize that number 10 for Boris is a very relaxing place, but he must have realized that it was a party and not a “working event”.

Moreover, according to eyewitnesses, Carrie (his then-fiancée) was also enjoying herself in Downing Street Park. Was she present at the party after she also assumed it was a “working event”? If so, she’s not on the cast, why was she there? The Prime Minister chose not to address this point yesterday. Carrie is not mentioned.

All of this, of course, must be taken by the Prime Minister as idiots if he thinks we can be persuaded that he thinks this was a ‘business event’. We understand very well why he didn’t admit it was a party.

For one thing, this would be an admission that he violated the Covid laws that he issued and urged us to accept. It would call for an investigation by the Metropolitan Police and possibly result in a retroactive fine.

On the other hand, he told the House of Commons on December 8, responding to previous claims of the 10th-ranked parties: “I have been assured time and time again not to break the rules. I repeat that I have been reassured time and time again since these allegations emerged that there is no party and that the Covid rules have not been broken.

If Johnson admits that a party has taken place at number ten, there will be boys in blue on his back and he faces a very serious accusation that he misled the House of Commons. It should be a “business event”.

According to eyewitnesses, Carrie (his then-fiancée) was also having fun in Downing Street Park.  Was she at the party after I also assumed she was

According to eyewitnesses, Carrie (his then-fiancée) was also having fun in Downing Street Park. Was she present at the party after she also assumed it was a “working event”? If so, she’s not on the cast, why was she there?

Yesterday, No. 10 wasn’t even ready to say whether the PM had a glass of wine within 25 minutes of her staff. Presumably they calculate that if he did, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to represent the occasion as a “working event”.

Will the great British people buy this unexpected story? I doubt it very much. The question is whether they would object to trying to pull the wool over their eyes. We may find out over the next few days.

Let me note here how utterly hopeless Sir Keir Starmer was in the House of Commons. He’s supposed to be a great lawyer! Instead of questioning the PM about the details, hold on to pre-packaged statements and wind that Boris should resign, what a disgrace, etc.

How much better it would have been if the leader of the Labor Party had asked the prime minister if he was aware of the party’s calls (and if not, why?).

He should have invited him to estimate the number of people drinking alcohol at the “work event”. What a lucky man Boris Johnson has Sir Kerr against!

Will he be so lucky with Sue Gray, the great civil servant who investigates Whitehall parties, whose forthcoming Johnson report endlessly cited yesterday as a good reason for people not to jump to premature conclusions?

She is said to be a tough customer, and he has ended the jobs of three cabinet ministers with her damned provisions. But it is important to point the finger at the prime minister in a way that leads to his resignation.

Instead of questioning the PM about the details, Sir Keir Starmer stuck to stormy and prepackaged statements that Boris should resign, what a disgrace, etc.

Instead of questioning the PM about the details, Sir Keir Starmer stuck to stormy and prepackaged statements that Boris should resign, what a disgrace, etc.

In the end, you may not be able to dismiss Boris’ unique perception that it was not a party, even if she accepts the clear evidence – as she certainly must – that it was.

This could be the loophole through which a master scouting expert slips again. we will see.

What we can say with confidence is that Boris will continue to wriggle and wriggle like a big, slippery fish caught in a very small net. He might finally be restored after a great mission, but it would be a huge struggle.

What is practically certain, I think, is that if he survives in the short to medium term, he will never again have the confidence of Tory MPs as he once did. They cannot ignore the sentiments of voters who cannot be taken as fools.

Then there is Dominic Cummings. Who can tell what other discredited stories about Boris whose vengeful former chief adviser still holds? I doubt he finished planning his former master’s downfall.

Troubled days and weeks lie ahead. I can’t see the end of the game yet. I am saddened that the prime ministership that promised so much to this country should have collapsed due to reckless actions and reckless and unnecessary lies.

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