Boris Johnson faces down the Met – as the little people get fines over Partygate

Here’s a thing – it turns out that the same parties were illegal for some people but fair enough for others. Boris Johnson’s exceptionalism has been indulged yet again, as it’s generally only the little people – the expendable junior members of staff at No 10 – who have been fined over Partygate.

The Convict picked up just the one fine, for the party that was arguably not a party at all – when he was ambushed by cake on his birthday. Go figure. But on the whole, the prime minister decided he could settle for that. It had taught him an important lesson: never rely on Suella Braverman for legal advice. Getting the half-witted attorney general to fill out his police questionnaire had been a huge mistake. So, for all the other parties, he got a top QC to defend him.

That wasn’t all. The birthday do also had the huge benefit of seeing his main leadership rival completely screwed over. Rishi Sunak has never recovered from the shame, something Johnson has never suffered from. His narcissism has its advantages.

The chancellor has learned the hard way that people invariably expect higher standards of others than they do of Boris. The Convict’s rule-breaking and lying was priced in. Literally no one cared. So to see off Sunak had been worth the £50 fine. After all, he hadn’t reckoned back then on his chancellor being so spectacularly bad at chancelloring and that the government would be failing to deal with a cost of living crisis. So it has been a win-win.

All the same, it has been a matter of pride for Johnson to see if he could escape any further fines and it has turned out to be surprisingly easy. Mainly because the Metropolitan police has – for reasons best know to itself – been hell-bent on trashing what remained of its credibility.

Still, he couldn’t have known the Old Bill would prove so obligingly incompetent. Not to mention credulous. It was no wonder their crime clear-up rates were so consistently poor. Even though No 10 was the country’s most law-breaking party venue and Sue Gray had gone out of her way to list all the different occasions – she had even provided dates, venues and offenders! – on which illegal gatherings had taken place, the Met had failed to nab most of the suspects. Just the few who have been dim enough to admit their guilt.

So, the Convict has set about compiling his defence with his counsel. First the generalities, the things that applied to every charge.

Where to start? Well obviously that the government had changed the rules for lockdown. And Johnson had been so exhausted explaining what was required from people at the nightly press conferences that it had completely escaped his attention that he was bound by the same rules. An easy mistake to make from someone who often needs reminding that the rules also apply to him. Plus it had never occurred to him that the riff raff might actually take him seriously and obey the law. If people were dumb enough not to visit their dying relatives, then more fool them. Really.

Then there was the “Do what you like” culture of No 10. There would be hell to pay when Johnson found out who was in charge of Downing Street. The man – if it was a man – must have been half asleep most of the time. No one had been more shocked than the Convict that all these parties had taken place right under his nose. Some had been arranged so secretively that people such as him hadn’t even been aware they were taking place even when they were actually at them. That was the level of deception going on.

On to the details. First there had been the bring your own bottle party. Johnson had thought his then principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds – Party Marty – had just been reminding staff to remember their water bottles during the hot weather. Nor could he remember getting an email that mentioned a party. The one he had received had said there would be a BYOB work event.

And when he and Carrie had wandered downstairs after work – whoops, during work – he had been amazed to find the garden packed with people getting pissed and helping themselves to food off trestle tables that had been put up for the occasion. Mind you, it had never occurred to him that anyone might think this was a party because, why would you?

It was clearly a work event with people talking about how tricky it is to get pissed with other people these days due to the Covid restrictions. In any case, he hadn’t wanted to make a fuss because he wasn’t sure who was in charge at No 10. So he and Carrie had just tiptoed off back to the flat.

No one had been more amazed than he to find security fishing staff and empties out of the flower bed the following morning. Just a really great work event. The team objectives for the session had been for everyone to get trashed, and they had been met. In any case, the law had been so badly worded – you can’t get the governments these days – that it was technically legally to have a party. Providing no one turned up.

The party in the No 10 flat had been rather different. It had nothing to do with celebrating Dominic Cummings’s exit. That was just a smear. Carrie had just been doing an online zumba class to “The Winner Takes It All” while some of her mates pretended they weren’t there. And Johnson had just gone quietly to his bedroom so that he could change out of his wine-stained suit into his pyjamas before interviewing someone – he forgot who – for a job. It was all totally innocent.

As for the other parties, no one could actually prove anything. There weren’t any photos – apart from the one with the tinsel – so everyone could just do one. The Convict stared down the Met. He stuck by his story that he had never known nuffink about anyfink. Anyone who said different was a liar. On his life. He fought the law, and the law lost.

The Guardian