What makes the Pincher fallout that much more spectacular is not only that Bozo lied about it, but that under his less than benign leadership, Downing Street staff followed his line and lied about it, perhaps unwittingly at first. Then came a procession of variously senior ministers who also followed the given line, and who therefore also lied. Now the house is falling in.
The situation is so bad that, looking at the grim countenance of some around the cabinet table this morning, the prospect is now being faced: Bozo’s departure may come sooner rather than later, and with it their own demotion to the back benches. That departure may be forced by the Pincher lies: those cabinet colleagues fed up of being sent out to lie for their leader.
Beginning yesterday, the stench of decay became not merely rank, but overwhelming: Adam Bienkov of Byline Times summed up the ever-changing definition of reality. “Downing Street first said the Prime Minister wasn't aware of ‘any allegation’ against Chris Pincher, then said he wasn't aware of any ‘specific allegation’ against him. Now we're told the PM wasn't aware of any ‘serious specific allegation’”. And all the while there was that policy vacuum.
Which was noted by Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy: “Friday it was 50 year mortgages. Yesterday it was taxing [the] childless. Today it's a consultation on increasing how many kids a child minder can look after at once … Increasingly it feels like UK government isn't even pretending to have actual policies, just endless blether balloons”. Something to brief to the right-leaning press. Just to give the impression that something is happening.
And with this morning’s media round came further humiliation of all those prepared to go out and cover up Bozo’s lying, some of whom may have had enough. The Guardian’s Gaby Hinsliff caught up with one of those thus humiliated: “Dominic Raab moving in the space of 5 mins from ‘that’s not accurate’ to ‘that’s news to me’ (on claims PM was directly told of a formal complaint against Chris Pincher in 2019) to admitting that he didn’t directly ask the PM if he was told about this”. But that merely begs another question.
Did he just keep schtum when Pincher was made deputy chief whip? Did he look the other way in order to keep himself in the style to which he had, perhaps undeservingly, become accustomed? It got worse for Raab when he was skewered by co-host Susanna Reid on ITV Good Morning Britain. By contrast, her co-host, former Labour MP “Auguste” Balls, did not need to intervene. Raab may not be winking at Angela Rayner tomorrow.
And then it got a lot worse, potentially terminally worse, as Pippa Crerar of the Mirror told “Simon McDonald - who had a glittering four-decade career in government - publishes bombshell letter to Parliamentary Standards Commissioner saying No 10’s claims about Chris Pincher aren’t true”.
Whoops! Once more, Adam Bienkov had the detail. “Boris Johnson's spokesman said yesterday that there was no formal complaint against Chris Pincher upheld against him prior to the Prime Minister appointing him. The former head of the diplomatic service, has now written to the Standards Commissioner to confirm this is false”. And there was more.
“So far we have been told the PM was: Not aware of ‘any allegations’ against Pincher - Not aware of any ‘specific allegations’ - Not aware of any ‘serious specific allegations’ - Not aware of any allegations that were substantiated … All of these claims now appear to be false”. He may not be too surprised by the news, knowing Bozo from his days as occasional Mayor of London.
And then it got even worse, as Matthew Harris of LBC observed “a serving senior civil servant rings in to say our democracy is in danger due to lies coming from No.10 Press operation. Says he was felt a duty to ring in after watching Dominic Raab call into question Simon McDonald’s account in his letter”. The caller also called on Simon Case to resign.
Like Pincher, the Tories knew what Bozo was like before they made him leader. It was “priced in”. Now his continued presence may price them out - of power. And the Tory party knows how to hang on to power by disposing of leaders who have outlived their usefulness. The end approaches.
The only question now is who will wield the knife. Decisions, decisions.
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