In a desperate attempt to save his skin, Boris Johnson is inventing new lies. Andrew Rawnsley

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I woz framed. Faced with overwhelming, scuttling, exploding evidence against him, the old laggard’s last resort is to claim he is the victim of a conspiracy. Since his ouster from the premiership, Boris Johnson has protested that it was “the biggest stitch-up since the Bayeux Tapestry”. It’s not too ridiculous and totally untrue, neither of which stops him from saying it over and over again.

He just can’t stop trying to deceive himself and everyone else about why he was fired because he can’t handle the truth any more than he can speak. He is forced to blame anyone except himself because otherwise he would have suffered the fatal character flaw that self-absorbed his premiere. He would never find it in himself to admit that Boris Johnson was the architect of Boris Johnson’s infamy. His hunger for a return to power is another important driver of his ridiculous claim of being the victim of a miscarriage of justice. His hopes of re-establishing his reputation, and the dreams he still entertains of a return to Number 10, depend on persuading fellow Tories not to force him out of Downing Street last summer Was Needed.

His reputation is not of any rehabilitation; The last thing Britain needs is to reiterate its need. That’s why whenever an attempt is made to clean his sins, we should be alert immediately.

This type of operation is going on now. Its principal mouthpieces are Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, arsenic and Old Lace of the Johnson gang, with the support of elements of the right-wing media which are clamoring for their reinstatement. Mr Rees-Mogg said Partygate was “a left-wing stitch-up against a Tory prime minister”, a “socialist gang of Boris haters who were happy to oust him”. Ms Dorries told of an “outrageous” plot to “bring down Brexit-supporter Boris Johnson”.

The trigger for this Trumpian conspiracy-trading was the announcement that Sue Gray, author of an inquiry into Partygate, was to leave the civil service and join Sir Keir Starmer as chief of staff to the Labor leader.

The purpose of Mr. Johnson and his minions is not simply to discredit Ms. Gray and her report. His deeper and even more insidious ambition is to undermine a parliamentary inquiry into whether he tried to cover up Partygate by lying to the Commons. The Privileges Committee, an all-party group with a Conservative majority, has just published its interim findings. It concludes that there are compelling grounds to accuse it of deliberately misleading Parliament on a number of occasions. These allegations, which could lead to his ouster from the Commons, are serious. The former prime minister’s trial will begin when MPs begin taking televised evidence this month. One or more guilty verdicts would be the death knell for any chance of a comeback for Johnson, which is why he and his cronies are so desperate to trash Ms. Gray and the committee.

‘Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, Arsenic and Old Lace of the Johnson Gang.’ Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

His recruitment to Team Starr is certainly interesting, but first we need to be absolutely clear about Partygate. It was a horrific scandal that rightly angered the public. Long before Ms Gray conducted her enquiry, everyone knew, thanks to media revelations, that there were gradual and egregious breaches of Covid rules in Downing Street. Among new evidence published by the Privileges Committee, a witness reported Mr Johnson told a packed gathering inside Number 10 in November 2020, when strict rules on social distancing were in place, that “it is probably the most social form in the UK”. Uninterrupted assembly from now”. The committee has also published unseen photographs of alcohol-soaked gatherings between the then prime minister and Number 10 aides, as well as damaging WhatsApp messages. One official tells another that there are concerns about the “PM’s pee leaking” into the building. An aide worries that “there is a huge gap in the prime minister’s account”.

Mr Johnson made a series of false statements to the Commons when he denied that illegal gatherings had taken place at Number 10. This was clear before Ms. Gray was hired. It was Mr Johnson who had chosen her to lead the investigation, praising her as a woman of unblemished character, when Cabinet Secretary Simon Case had to recuse himself from what appeared to be a meeting under suspicion. were present in ,

The Gray Report added some detail about lockdown-busting in Number 10, but its main effect was to confirm what was already known: laws made in Downing Street were repeatedly and blatantly broken in Downing Street Was. The Metropolitan Police carried out a separate investigation and issued 126 fines, making Number 10 the least law-abiding address in the country. One of the fines – many thought he was lucky to get just one – was imposed on Mr Johnson. He accepted the police ruling that he had broken the law and became the first prime minister to be convicted of a criminal offense while in office. He managed to cling on for a few weeks before being ceded to turf by Tory MPs, who finally tired of his lies when Number 10 fell apart in the case of Chris Pincher. These events are not the only chapter in their ugly history that Mr. Johnson is trying to rewrite. In a speech last week, he claimed: “When I step down, we [the Tory party] Labor was just a few points behind. stepped down? This makes it seem like he sacrificed the premiership for the good and selflessly of the greater good. In fact what he did was cling to office so doggedly that it took an unprecedented wave of ministerial resignations to oust him. The Tories were not trailing by a “handful” of points. He was 10 points behind in the polls and his personal approval rating had dropped to around -50.

His misconduct, his lies and his toxicity in office brought him so much disgrace – they were the reasons he was fired. And not by some imaginary “socialist gang”, but by his own party.

Now, for Ms. Grey. There is some shock among the Mandarins that she is joining Sir Keir’s team and some concern that it will sow doubts about the fairness of the civil service. Truth be told, civil servants are not political eunuchs. He has personal opinions, as do most people. The true test of a civil servant’s professionalism is whether they can put aside their views and serve any party in power. There is much astonishment in Whitehall about Ms Gray’s move, which shows that she passed that test.

sue gray
Sue Grey: ‘She is known to be a strong and capable operator.’ Photograph: Tayfun Salsi/Zuma Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

There is an argument for the Labor leader to make him his chief of staff. They got to know each other when he was Director of Public Prosecutions. Having made the journey from civil servant to political player, she will not find it as strange or outrageous as some critics suggest Ms Gray would make a similar transition. Sir Keir’s party has not been in government for more than a decade and he has never held a ministerial post, so the Labor leader would be wiser to recruit an expert guide to the internal wiring of Whitehall, which he hopes to That will happen as part of the preparation for power. win. She is known to be a strong and capable operator.

Another highlight of Sir Keir’s appointment is that it is designed to signal that a government led by him will not tolerate the debauchery of standards in public life by the Johnson regime. Ms Gray gained sobriquet “the enforcer” as head of propriety and ethics in the Cabinet Office, a position that influenced ministerial conduct. He played a role during the parliamentary expenses scandal in the twilight years of the previous Labor government. It was his job to collect evidence against rogue ministers and present it to Gordon Brown. Many that he investigated, he was forced to leave. If she has been a Labor sympathizer for a long time, it has not been reflected in the way she has conducted herself as a civil servant.

Partygate was not Ms. Gray’s invention. He and Sir Keir did not enter No. 10 to find a fridge full of liquor. They did not issue party invitations, serve drinks, shake hands or take objectionable photographs. There was no “cabal”, no “coup” and no “conspiracy”. The only plot was hatched in episode 10 to try to cover up Partygate. One person was responsible for the downfall of Boris Johnson and that person stares at him every time he looks in the mirror.

Andrew Rawnsley is the Observer’s chief political commentator

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