The Guardian has helpfully given some of the background: “Yesterday the Commons privileges committee held its first meeting to plan its inquiry into claims that Johnson lied to MPs and - in what could be a highly significant move - it decided to effectively invite No 10 staff to give evidence anonymously”. Why would that be significant? Ah well. There is more.
“If, as reports suggest, some junior Downing Street officials are aggrieved about the way they were treated during Partygate, and if they can provide evidence that Johnson knew much more about parties taking place or rules being broken than he told the Commons, then this whistleblower provision could prove fatal to the prime minister”. Fatal enough to pull the smear.
And so it came to pass that the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph produced a superbly crafted pile of steaming bullpucky headlined “No 10 fears PM faces ‘kangaroo court’”. The lead name on the by-line, to no surprise at all, is Christopher “No” Hope, and Lee Donaghy correctly identified the nature of the article: “Client journalism. Trashing good people doing important work”. Adam Bienkov of Byline Times had another reminder.
“Four out of the seven members of the Privileges Committee are Conservative MPs”. Is Bozo having his own back benchers leaned on? Is he that scared? Or is someone else within Downing Street briefing Hope, or causing him to be briefed? It got worse as Chris Bryant, who has resigned his chairmanship of the Committee to avoid any accusation of bias, chipped in.
“This is nonsense and a sign they’re scared of being caught out. The committee members are thorough, fair and meticulous. They’re advised by the former head of the tribunal service. But this is what Johnson always does, throw over the rules or the body that adjudicates on them”, later adding “It is at least arguable that calling the Committee of Privileges a ‘kangaroo court’ is itself a contempt of parliament”. Which is most revealing.
That suggests not only that Hope and his co-writer were merely, in the words of Peter Oborne,”just shovelling it on”, failing to interrogate their source or bothering to do the most basic of research, but also that whoever briefed the Tel did not know their way around the concept of Contempt of Parliament. Which, in turn, feeds back into the idea that the briefing may not have come from one of Bozo’s press people. It also smacks of bad faith.
For instance, the Tel’s report talks of “hearsay evidence”, but the Committee will not be accepting hearsay evidence. What they will accept, though, providing the evidence giver can be identified to them, is anonymised evidence. So no-one outside the Committee will know who give the evidence and - by complete coincidence, you understand - the evidence giver cannot be leant on, or smeared, by Bozo and his enforcers.. So who’s the briefer?
OK, there seem to have been at least one MP prepared to be quoted, but then, around 200 of them backed Bozo in the recent confidence vote. Were I a betting man, I would have a few quid on Carrie Johnson being not unadjacent to the briefing given to Hope as an “exclusive” - as in it being such a steaming pile of bovine by-product that no-one else would run it.
Given that this inquiry finding that Bozo did knowingly mislead the Commons - in other words, lying and knowing he lied - would probably precipitate his removal from Downing Street, even if it does mean dragging the SOB out kicking and screaming, she has motive enough to be behind it.
Who's calling the Tel?
So that’s where my Occam’s Razor is pointing right now. This is an especially nasty anonymous smear of a Committee which has a Tory majority, with, apparently, the sole objective of warning them off saying Bozo Done It. It also says much about the level to which the Tel has sunk that its hacks are prepared to even listen to whoever briefed the smear.
It could, of course, be someone else behind the briefing. Bozo himself, or his other friend, for instance. But one thing is certain: it won’t work.
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