Weapon of mass deception
Boris dossier reveals we’re only 45 minutes from the next lie
Improbable though it may sound, some people have suggested that Boris Johnson may not have been completely straight with Parliament when he claimed that there hadn’t been any lockdown parties in Downing Street. Vicious slurs, put about on no more evidence than photographs, leaked emails and multiple witness statements, have implied that there were in fact lockdown parties, and that Johnson was present at them.
Parliament’s Committee on Standards and Privileges is currently wrestling with the question of how Boris Johnson, a man famous for his unbending moral rectitude, could have come to repeatedly say something that was on the face of it — and indeed quite a long way below the face of it — obviously untrue. They will hear evidence from the man himself on Wednesday afternoon, but before then he’s submitted a 60-page “bombshell” dossier that will apparently prove his innocence.
The dossier was supposed to be submitted on Monday morning, but in a move that was not a total surprise to anyone who had dealt with Johnson in his time as a journalist, it was several hours late.
Readers of lesser news outlets will have to rely on random guesses and contradictory leaks to know the contents of the dossier. But after one of The Critic’s army of interns guessed that Johnson wouldn’t have changed his email password from his longstanding choice of “BigJugz69”, we’re able to bring you highlights right now.
- There were no parties. Necking a bottle of champagne and then shagging someone on your desk is standard behaviour in most of the places Johnson has worked over the years. Compared to post-lunch behaviour at The Spectator, some wine down the wall and a bit of vomit in a bin was positively restrained. More than that, Johnson was used to dealing with intoxicated people in a work setting. After all, the long years in which he was taken seriously as a journalist and then a politician can only really be explained if everyone he spoke to was off their face.
- There were parties, but they were rubbish. Johnson was a member of the Bullingdon Club. He knows he’s been to a party if he wakes up in a police cell with a furious restauranteur demanding payment for a smashed window. Having checked his own arrest records for the period, the former prime minister simply concluded that he hadn’t been to a celebration that was worth mentioning to Parliament.
- Everyone at the parties said there hadn’t been any parties. If Boris Johnson learned one thing in his time making up stories about the European Union for the Telegraph, it’s that if someone mutters something to you that sounds like what you want to hear, you should end the conversation quickly before they have a chance to pour cold water on your tale about bonkers bureaucrats banning bendy bananas. Upon seeing reports about the lockdown parties that he’d attended, Johnson summoned all the people he’d seen there and firmly asked them if they were going to rat him out for breaking the law. Their denials were the only answer he needed. Or wanted.
- Lockdown advice was complicated and hard to follow. Johnson’s submission contains several pages detailing the way that the government’s health advice changed over the course of 2020, from “shake hands with everyone you meet” to “stay at home” to “eat out to help out” to “rule of six” to “back inside”. In the face of such chaos, he argues, it was impossible for anyone to know whether they should be opening the wine fridge or firing up the Abba karaoke. “If someone must be blamed,” Johnson writes, “blame whoever was running the country.”
- There was a culture of lying in Downing Street at the time. The former prime minister will argue that any misleading statements he gave should be viewed in the context that his office routinely said things that weren’t true, whether on the Irish Sea Border or Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to Durham. Lying, he says, was simply regarded as the normal way of going about things in Number 10, and it genuinely didn’t occur to anyone there that the lying was wrong.
- No one believes anything Boris Johnson says. Johnson says he was entitled to make sweeping generalisations based on his opinions, and that complainants had misconstrued the purpose of his denial — it was clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably understood as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters.
TOMORROW: The Critic has obtained the contents of a second dossier written by Johnson, in which he admits his guilt.
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