Partygate: did Boris Johnson really say ‘This is the most UNsocially distanced party in the UK’?

Boris Johnson not participating in a Downing Street party.

Boris Johnson is to give evidence to the Parliamentary inquiry into whether he knowingly misled MPs about parties at 10 Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown, in a few weeks.

The inquiry has finally received all the documentary evidence it requested from Number 10 (apparently staff started shredding information and discussing the stories they would tell as soon as the story broke that parties had been happening, so it will be interesting to see what has been received).

ITV’s Paul Brand, who broke the Partygate story back in late 2021, has launched a podcast discussing what happened – and what will happen – and discussed it with the hosts of Good Morning Britain.

It features interviews with people who were directly involved in what was happening and will include new revelations, as he revealed:

It’s interesting that it’s said Theresa May would have been shocked if she had been PM and parties were found to have been going on downstairs.

But Theresa May’s opinions are now notoriously changeable: as PM she forbade ministers from visiting Saudi Arabia because of world events at the time, but as a backbencher she has been happy to rake in the money by giving a speech there.

Also interesting is the revelation that people in Downing Street were shocked that Johnson denied knowledge of the parties – and “started shredding evidence immediately – as soon as those claims started coming out; corroborating their stories; preparing for the Metropolitan Police investigation and Sue Gray’s investigation”.

The podcast – Partygate: The Inside Story – is available (for example) here.

The pundits point out that the investigation could have Johnson removed from Parliament for good – if he’s suspended there could be a by-election. And he won’t come back as PM (to replace Rishi Sunak) because if he does, Partygate comes back with him.

Phil Moorhouse expands on these points on his A Different Bias channel, here:

The really interesting part of this one is that Johnson supporters like Nadine Dorries and the Conservative Democratic Organisation may actually turn other Tories against him with their agitating for him to replace Sunak.

Their timetable is likely to be that, after a major Conservative loss of council seats at the elections in May, they will launch a “confidence” vote against Sunak as soon as they can, which is a year after he became PM – some time in November, most likely.

Sunak would win this vote, but not overwhelmingly, which is fatal for a sitting prime minister. He’d be on his way out, paving the way for Johnson to return…

Unless he is found guilty of at least not correcting the record or of knowingly lying to Parliament and the Privileges Committee (in charge of the inquiry) recommends a punishment.

If that’s a suspension of at least 10 days, there will be a recall petition in his constituency which will be successful. He will lose his Parliamentary seat and there will be a by-election in which he may stand – but will lose.

And then he won’t be able to stand against Sunak because he won’t be a member of Parliament.

I love the part of this clip where Phil says Johnson’s defence is “that he is monumentally stupid and cannot recognise a party when he sees one”!

Whatever happens, it’s looking bad for Boris Johnson.

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