Big Dog was having a bad morning. Normally, he could count on Grant Shapps to vigorously defend any lies from the government, which is why he was sent to do the morning media rounds.
But even the transport secretary had not bothered to put a positive spin on the latest revelations about the birthday party. He even made the schoolboy mistake of calling a party a party, when everyone knew that word was a no-no inside #10.
The usually reliable Nadine Dorries had also not shown her face on Twitter after she was ridiculed for claiming the previous evening that a birthday party for the Prime Minister in the cabinet room, hosted by his wife and in the presence of the interior designer, Lulu Lytle, was clearly a high-level business meeting.
In fact, the only two MPs showing public enthusiasm for him had been the ever-absurd Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Fabricator. Which was a mixed blessing as he was hemorrhaging support every time they opened their mouths.
Then came the appearance of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick before a committee of the Greater London Assembly. There she announced that after Sue Gray passed on some of the evidence she had gathered, a police investigation into some of the parties at No 10 would be a good idea after all.
Dick had offered Boris Johnson some encouragement. To begin with, she had said that she would only investigate the parts for which there was already a lot of evidence. Far from it, the Met is scrambling to find new evidence for itself. It would be a waste of the police’s time. And she had seemed reassuringly slow to understand the failure of the police stationed inside Downing Street to wonder what all the noise was about and why so much alcohol had been smuggled into the building. It also looks like she just thought there might be CCTV footage from some of the parties. No, no parties. Work events.
Even so, a police investigation was not ideal. Big Dog sighed and poured himself a drink even though it was only past noon. On the plus side, it could delay things for a few weeks or even months. That was still good news when your only game plan over the past few weeks had been to find ever more creative ways to try and hang on to your work until the end of the day.
The downside was that Sue Gray must have found clear evidence that he – and others – had broken lockdown laws and shit was sure to hit the fan sooner or later.
His most immediate concern, however, was to find a Cabinet minister dumb enough to answer Labour’s pressing question about the party’s latest allegations and police investigation. “Don’t worry, Prime Minister,” said Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. “I just got the man. This is Mike Ellis, the paymaster general. He has already made himself look like an abject by making two previous UQs during your parties…”
“Please don’t call them parties,” Big Dog said. “It makes me nervous.”
This is how Oily Mike found himself facing Angela Rayner in the Commons for the third time in a matter of weeks. The Deputy Leader of the Labor Party bent over backwards. Which part of the Prime Minister was stuffing his face with a Colin the Caterpillar cake, which his wife had just brought down – with her darling Lulu – from the upper apartment to the cabinet room, where 30 members of his staff had just come from gather together sing happy birthday, didn’t everyone understand that this was against the rules the government had imposed on the rest of the country? You hardly needed a police investigation for this, but damn it, now that there was one, we better get it done. And in the meantime, why didn’t Big Dog just quit?
Oily Mike was momentarily caught off guard. What should he call the prime minister? The accused? The guilty ? The defendant? No, that was it. The suspect. MPs shouldn’t be so quick to prejudge the suspect. It was perfectly normal for the suspect to stop by for a quick cup of tea with his wife.
And the 30 guests were all waiting to debrief him on a major fraudulent Covid test and trace contract. And they only sang Happy Birthday to wash their hands. And since it was a surprise party, the suspect couldn’t be expected to remember being there. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been a surprise. As for the cake, the suspect had long thought he could both have it and eat it.
On other occasions, very few Conservatives have come to the House to make fun of themselves. But this time there was a hard core of around 20 Boris devotees. Edward Leigh raged saying we were on the brink of war and the Prime Minister was about to be knocked down by a piece of cake. Theresa Villiers insisted the suspect should be granted a waiver as he helped organize the vaccination programme.
Giles Watling groaned that any criminality committed by the suspect was a vexatious waste of time, while Graham Stuart thought he detected terror in the opposition benches. In the benches of the government perhaps. Where do conservative selection committees find such idiots? Stuart Anderson felt the charges were destabilizing the country and should be dropped, while Mark Jenkinson detected a media conspiracy. To find out the truth. Richard Bacon thought the crimes were so minor that they should just be forgotten and we should have a 10 day celebration for the life and works of St Suspect.
Back in Downing Street, the suspect thought he had things nailed down for now. Maybe the Met would take so long to realize that everyone would forget he was a liar who broke his own rules. That he could bring the country back to his level by involving it in his nihilism and deception. That somehow we got the government we deserved. People were so disengaged they would let anything go. Then came the bad news that Sue Gray’s report would be released this week. Now the shit could really hit the fan.
Even the suspect thought it was hard to know if he could get out of this one.