It was telling yesterday evening that when the story of two more lockdown-busting parties emerged, the one part of the media landscape that kept schtum was the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. And so it remained until this morning, when The Great Guido suddenly, and miraculously, was gifted an exclusive.
At 0928 hours, the Fawkes blog told readers “Cressida Dick To Confirm Police Will Investigate Downing Street Parties”, concluding the post by adding “Downing Street has been informed of the planned change of stance”. At 1011 hours, they followed up with the confirmatory “Cressida Dick Confirms Met Investigation Into Downing Street Parties”.
Then came the real revelation: the Cabinet had been meeting, more or less at the same time that the Fawkes massive were congratulating themselves on their exclusive. But the news that had previously winged its way chez Fawkes somehow evaded all present in the Cabinet Room, the location where Bozo had been given his birthday surprise.
Sam Coates of Sky News had the confirmation of this latest highly selective dissemination: “Multiple sources confirm Boris Johnson didn’t tell his cabinet of the police investigation *despite knowing before cabinet started the announcement was imminent* … This has caused Cabinet incredulity, I understand … No10 says it was too ‘sensitive’ to share with cabinet”. It wasn’t too sensitive for someone to share it with The Great Guido, though.
Just to make sure his point got across, Coates emphasised “This means the cabinet were amongst the last people in Britain to find out about the police investigation into Downing Street”. They should have been the first to know. But don’t worry, because “Boris Johnson does not believe he broke the law, his spokesman said [belief over reality, eh?] … The spokesman wouldn’t repeat that all coronavirus rules were followed at all times”.
Paul Brand of ITV News, who had been first with the story of that double bill of lockdown-busting yesterday, mused on what Coates’ confirmation meant: “Cabinet currently leaving No 10 to discover the building they’ve just departed is now the subject of a police investigation”. Some maintained a discreet silence as they walked the Downing Street walk. Minister for times long past Jacob Rees Mogg attempted optimistic bluster.
And it convinced no-one: the scent of panic was palpable. How the news reached Staines and his pals first, and why it was kept from the Cabinet, may be a question for the Met’s investigation. But one fact is inescapable: as Peter Oborne put it when the Fawkes Twitter feed told “Cabinet members angry that they weren't informed of the news by PM”, “Translation: Downing Street told Guido before the Cabinet”.
When even the basics of passing information have broken down, it is beyond the point where the game is up. The retribution of former chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings is breaking Bozo’s régime apart. The final collapse can’t come soon enough.