Operation Save Big Dog spirals as MP claims PM was “ambushed with a cake”

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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The plot thickens. Boris Johnson was, according to one Tory MP, “ambushed with a cake”. His birthday bash was no “premeditated” attempt at an “organised” party – but a cynical ploy to stuff him with baked goods. Our hearts go out to the Prime Minister who seems to be, after all, only trying to do his job while his sneaky staff scheme to trip him up with confectionary, booze and general lockdown frolicking. He already told us that he did not see the invitation to the garden party before it took place, and that he did not realise the group of people gathered on his lawn with booze was not a work event. Again, Johnson was taken by surprise. We must assume he was bamboozled into holding the Christmas quiz as well…

At least that is what Johnson must be hoping Sue Gray – and now the Met Police – will conclude. The wait for Gray’s report continues after a chaotic Tuesday of briefing and counter briefing on when it will arrive. It was thought the findings would be handed over to Downing Street last night with Johnson expected to make a statement to the Commons today. The report did not arrive last night, however, and it is now thought more likely that it will not be published in time for Prime Minister’s Questions at 12pm. Thursday is looking like the day Johnson will face MPs.

“It is hard to know where to begin with this litany of utterly, utterly ridiculous excuses,” Labour’s Bridget Phillipson said this morning, reacting to the “ambush” comment. “I don’t think we need Sue Gray to tell us what is absolutely clear to the British people – which is that the Prime Minister has lied and lied and lied again. He has taken us all for fools, treated the British people with complete contempt,” the Shadow Education Secretary added. “We know what has gone on. The Prime Minister has admitted what has gone on. It’s just this litany of bizarre excuses. What we’re focused on as an opposition is making sure we’ve got the answers to the real challenges facing the country at the moment – not this ridiculous distraction.”

That the report will not arrive before PMQs is disappointing for Keir Starmer. The police investigation will also mean the Prime Minister can repeatedly reach for ‘I cannot comment while a police investigation is ongoing’. The session will nevertheless prove painful for Johnson. Sources have said the police are waiting to see whether the Gray report concludes that he was at a function that broke the rules and, if so, “they will have to interview him”. This would make Johnson the first Prime Minister ever to be interviewed under caution – meaning he is a suspect in an investigation – and the first to be questioned by detectives since Tony Blair in 2006. Stay tuned for our PMQs review.

Elsewhere, Labour’s ruling body met yesterday. The leadership won important votes as the national executive committee rejected a motion in favour of restoring the whip to Jeremy Corbyn and approved changes to guidance for the selection of candidates. Read Sienna’s full write-up here.

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