Thursday, 15th June, 2023

[Day 1186]

Today was the day when we knew that the report on the Committee of Privileges into Boris Johnson was due to report and, despite logistical difficulties in getting it printed, it hit the airways at about 9.00am this morning. Never can a report be as damning as this one. Johnson was subject to a 90 day suspension from the Commons were he still to have been an MP in the meanwhile. The suspension was going to be of the order of 10 days but two additional factors led the committee to increase the suspension period. Firstly, the evidence that he gave to the Committee itself, televised at the time, was taken as further evidence of having lied to the House of Commons as well as across the floor of the House of Commons. But a further factor was Johnson’s reaction to the initial draft of the report in which he tried to traduce the work of the Committee using language such as ‘kangaroo court’ and ‘witchhunt’ and this further compounded the offences he had originally committed. I think it is true to say that the penalty of 90 days was a complete surprise to the commentariat and the overall judgement of the report. Beth Rigby, a superb political commentator for Sky News gave a pithy summary ‘In the end, it was excoriating, damning and unanimous: Boris Johnson was found not only to have deliberately misled the House of Commons over events in Number 10 during COVID lockdowns, but had attacked the fabric of our democracy itself by seeking to undermine the committee and investigation’. I think that the fact that Johnson has misled the House not on one occasion but on several occasions revealed a cavalier attitude to the truth. As his housemaster in Eton wrote to his father ‘the conclusion was that thinking he should be free of the network of obligation that binds everyone’. I think that if you wanted to be as scrupulously fair to Johnson as it is possible to be and one ignores the often inferential evidence against Johnson in the Committee’s report, it must be said that Johnson has exhibited a consistent pattern of lying to employers for which he was sacked both by Michael Howard and by Max Hastings. Therefore the Committee must have concluded that any smidgeon of doubt that could be exercised in Johnson’s favour could be set aside given a track record of decades and decades of mendacious behavior. I think that people have forgotten long before Johnson was even thought of as a Prime Mnister, there was a large campaign group in the Commons which called them selves the ‘ABB’ group – anybody but Boris as they argued (with considerable foresight) that Johnson would make the most disastrous of Prime Ministers and so it proved. If I were a cartoonist, I would display Johnson as a firework in the shape of a volcano set apart from the rest of the Bonfire Night party and being allowed to fizz off with nobody noticing or being of interest. I read that the Twittersphere is even more vituperative but I did read one tweet to the effect that they had run out of Kleenex tissues with with to mop up the tears of joy that flowed down their face after the report was published.

Today was my shopping day but I after collecting my money from an ATM, I popped into a Morrison’s store to get some herbs and other ingredients for the meal I am going to prepare for Meg’s cousins on Sunday. It was one of those days where I found everything I wanted extraordinarily quickly and a kind member of staff even located some cornflower for me whilst I was perusing the packeted herbs section. So now I have all of the ingredients that I need for Sunday but I am relying upon our domestic help who calls around tomorrow to give me some final instructions how to prepare some special starters. Once I had got the shopping home, we had to unpack quickly the items that needed the freezer because Meg and I had a double appointent at the dentists mid-morning. Normally, we are in a pattern where we see the hygienist every six months and the dentist every six months but we ‘interdigitate’ the two such that we see the hygienist and then the dentist three months later. But the post COVID rush and scarcity of appointments meant that we saw the hygienist and the dentist on the same day, being today, and were both pleased to have emerged with a full scale bill of health for both of us although our bank balance received the nomal bashing. After that, we were pleased to get home and glue outselves to the TV to see the reactions to the Johnson report which is evidently dominating the airwaves today.

It was another roasting day today and Meg and I needed to make sure we were keeping ourselves both cool and hydrated. In the shopping this morning, I indulged ourselves by buying some choc ices and Meg and I treated ourselves to sitting out on our front bench to enjoy them. But we quickly had to retreat to the back garden and I was delighted to show the Meg the completely self-sown foxgloves (three purple but one pure white) that have sprung up in our back garden.