How a lot should Boris Johnson hate Michael Ellis? There once more, how a lot should Michael Ellis hate Michael Ellis? It takes a particular sort of individual to volunteer to be the prime minister’s fall man. Somebody with even a hint of self-respect might need regarded wistfully on the lateral circulate check, inked on a second crimson line and made himself unavailable. Not the delusional Ellis. He was at his grasp’s beck and name: prepared always to defend the completely indefensible in an act of imagined the Aristocracy. All he requested for in return was a knighthood for this and former acts of slavish devotion to Johnson.
It ought to, after all, have been Johnson who got here to the Commons to reply the pressing query. In any case, it was his get together, in his backyard, that he couldn’t keep in mind attending. Quick-term reminiscence loss is starting to appear like the one excuse he has acquired. Possible or not. However Boris has by no means been one to scrub up his personal shit. The MO of the Pikachu-lookalike with the toddler haircut has at all times been to generate chaos and let others take the rap. So courageous.
However with Johnson holed up within the Downing Avenue flat and refusing to return out, it was Ellis, the junior minister with the non-job of paymaster basic, who was compelled to point out his face. Once more. Solely final December, he had been made to reply a earlier UQ on different Downing Avenue events and that hadn’t gone effectively, together with his oily disposition and evasive solutions attracting widespread derision from the opposition benches. Tuesday’s efficiency was just about a re-run of the primary. Solely with even much less credibility as nobody within the chamber appeared in any doubt about Johnson’s guilt.
Ellis started by saying how sorry he was that the “allegations had arisen”. Not that the get together had taken place, whereas the remainder of the nation had been obeying the foundations and a few had been being denied a final goodbye to their family members. Simply sorry that somebody had seen match to blow the whistle on the gathering. It was already getting downgraded from a celebration.
However that was all he may say as a result of it might be incorrect to prejudge Sue Grey’s investigation. In any case, it was doable that throughout the course of her inquiry she would discover Boris had been doing one thing fully totally different from what everybody thought he had been doing and so unintentionally exonerated him. So there was no level anybody bothering to establish the reality as a result of there was a half probability that Grey would possibly fall for no matter lies the prime minister finally got here up with. A number of Labour MPs clapped paradoxically.
None of which went down with Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy chief. Her voice was laced with equal elements anger and scorn as she demanded some correct solutions. Had the prime minister been on the get together or not? That was absolutely a binary query which it needs to be straightforward to reply and not using a formal investigation. “He can run however he can’t conceal,” she stated. Which was not strictly true. He can barely even stroll nowadays. Rayner ended by asking if Ellis nonetheless believed the prime minister to be a person of honour.
Astonishingly, Ellis did. Although nobody else did. Not even the handful of Tories who had bothered to point out their faces for the federal government’s whole humiliation. Desmond Swayne questioned if the Downing Avenue events confirmed that everybody would have been higher off being allowed to do what they wished all alongside. Christopher Chope wished that every one the soiled linen had been washed in a single go moderately than drip fed. Duh! There’s means an excessive amount of of it for that. Maria Miller moderately timidly prompt that possibly the controversy ought to have been delayed till Grey had been given an opportunity to have a reminiscence lapse and exonerate Johnson, however that was about pretty much as good because it acquired for Ellis.
“I’ve the total help of the federal government,” stated the ever-so-oily Ellis, apparently unaware that the frontbench was totally empty aside from a lone whip, who had been despatched to maintain him firm and was doing his finest to faux he wasn’t there. Sometimes, he regarded pleadingly up on the speaker, determined to be put out of his distress. Most UQs solely run for 45 minutes, however for this one Lindsay Hoyle was ready to make an exception and go into half-hour extra time. If Johnson wouldn’t flip up then he’d make his understudy undergo.
It was a punishment beating, with opposition MPs quoting the fury of their constituents and asking inquiries to which Ellis may solely recite the identical ineffective non-answer. “It could be incorrect to prejudge the inquiry,” he stated repeatedly. And repeatedly, he could be advised that every one the home wished was affirmation that Boris had been on the get together. Certainly Ellis had requested him that earlier than he had agreed to cowl up for him? “I couldn’t presumably disclose personal conversations,” he stated, grandly. At which level his final remaining shred of self-worth shrivelled up and died. He was now a mere carapace, masquerading as sentient life.
Ellis was not the one one having a foul day defending Johnson. The junior well being minister, Edward Argar, had drawn the brief straw of the morning media spherical and had been unable to elucidate something to anybody. Not even why Boris wanted an inquiry to inform him what he had been doing. Principally Argar was left speaking nonsense earlier than deciding sufficient was sufficient and it was time to cowl his personal again. He positively had been to no events. He had spent all of the final two years on Zoom. He positively knew nothing. The extra he spoke, the much less convincing he sounded.
However the prize for actual stupidity went to Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant. Nobody had requested him to assist, clearly, as a result of he’s a perennial legal responsibility. However he volunteered anyway. The get together wasn’t a celebration, it was only a group of workmates having a celebration. Thud. The sound of 1 wig clapping. Boris was simply bewildered to search out so many individuals in his backyard. Thud. They deserved a celebration as a result of they’d been working so exhausting. Thud. With buddies like these…
Nonetheless, no less than we acquired one reply. For years, folks have questioned what the purpose of Micky F was. Now we knew. To make third-raters like Ellis look good.