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Westminster sketch: It’s official – everyone had a great time at the No10 party that never happened

PRIME Ministers Questions didn’t happen and, if it did, it followed all the rules.

To clarify further, there was no party at the Prime Minister’s address last December during lockdown and, if there was, he was not in attendance, and nor was anyone else, other than those who attended. Quite categorically, or indeed otherwise, we can say that there was neither knees-up at Downing Street nor knees-down at Upping Street

It’s quite clear: everything is opaque. At the time of writing, we know more about Kim Jong-un’s nuclear plans than Number 10’s party. The emerging strategy, we suspect, is to muddy the definition of “party”.

True, detailed reports describe a secret Santa and guests rhythmically dipping their beaks in the punch. Ah, but was there a conga? Did anyone suggest charades?

They must have done in the Commons yesterday, as we witnessed a Prime Minister miming the eating of humble pie and other assorted nibbles. Boris Johnson, the big dry roasted nutter himself, got the revelry under way with an impassioned pasquinade about how he “understood and shared” the fury up and also arguably down the country at tittering Number 10 staff “seeming to make light of lockdown measures”.

Apologising “unreservedly”, but with reservations, for any offence caused, he said that no rules had been broken and promised to discipline those who had broken these rules.

Sir Keir said this limpid obfuscation had raised more questions than answers. Principal question: “Eh?” The commonality, said Sir K (I’m paraphrasing the socialist leader’s words), were being taken for fools and lied to.

Of the video scenes of aides at leisure, Boris whimpered impressively: “I am sickened myself and furious about it.” Och, it’ll all blow over, to quote Boris’s forthcoming political epitaph.

The PM promised “consequences” once an investigation had confirmed what hadn’t taken place, prompting Sir Keir to ask why an investigation was needed into something that was “as clear as day”.

Voice off: “In his own house!”

Mr Starmer added that Ant and also Dec – popular entertainers, M’lord – were “ahead of the Prime Minister on this”. A and D said there’d been no party on their show I Am Arguably A Celebrity.

Boris insisted he understood “public indignation” but said there was a risk of doing an “injustice” to those who’d followed the rules.

Voice off: “Unbelievable!”

Sir Keir: “Give me break!” Last year, he said: “No one was dreaming of a Zoom Christmas, turkey dinners for one, gifts exchanged at service stations.” Furthermore, 489 people had died of Covid on the day of the Downing Street party. “Isn’t the Prime Minister ashamed?” Rhetorical question.

Boris alleged: “I’ve said what I have said.” All together now, following Boris’s example: “No, you haven’t.”

Then the Labour Leader produced his secret weapon: Her Majesty, a queen! Her example of sitting alone at her husband’s funeral had been the sort of sacrifice that “gives leaders the moral authority to lead”.

Boris accused Sir K of trying to “muddy the waters”. Good point: that was the PM’s job. “The public,” added the Prime Minister, “have not been confused.” How we laughed.

The laughter died as dark clouds gathered and out of the gloom came Ian Blackford, declaiming in portentous tones. “We are standing on the cliff edge” – eh? where? – “of yet another challenging moment in this pandemic.”

It was time, said the SNP’s Westminster leader, for “a moral reckoning”. Donning his black cap, he pronounced the one choice left to Boris: “It is for his resignation!” Yikes.

“I have nothing left to say,” he went on saying, “to a man whose answers we simply can’t trust.” Pointing round the House, he said: “It is time for members of this House to react. If he doesn’t resign then he must be removed!”

No one budged, so Boris replied, rather like Shere Khan languidly examining his claws: “I thank the right honourable gentleman for his vote of confidence.”

When, to “oohs” and “ahs”, Catherine West (Lab) asked if a party had taken place at Downing Street last November (on the day Dominic Cummings left), the PM replied” “No. But I’m sure that whatever happened the guidance was followed at all times.”

And there you have it in a nutcase: “whatever happened”. Was whatever happened then, or on 18 December, technically a party, a wee soirée, an orgy, a business meeting (Any Other Competent Business: karaoke), a wine-tasting?

One day, all will be revealed. But not at present in the House. And there we end our report on proceedings which did not take place yesterday in Parliament.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

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