Beer Industry

‘Ambushed by a cake’: Boris Johnson answers those legal questions

Boris Johnson Show caption Boris Johnson after another tough day of being prime minister. Photograph: Daniel Leal/AP
The politics sketch
Contributor image for: John Crace

Crates of beer and 20 guests including Carrie and Lulu? All the chancellor’s doing – honest guv!

This letter is a formal legal document, the equivalent to being interviewed by the police under caution. As such, it is incumbent on the respondent to give full and accurate answers at all times. Failure to do so may result in further criminal proceedings being taken against you.

Name: Rishi Sunak.

Is it really?: Yes.

It’s not, is it?: Er ...

You’re Boris Johnson, aren’t you?: Gosh! So I am.

That’s better. Try to make this easier for all of us. Name: Boris Johnson.

Provide full details of the event at Downing Street on 20 May 2020: From contemporaneous notes I made subsequent to this party that wasn’t a party becoming public knowledge, I see that I had a meeting with Party Marty … I mean, my principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds ... on that morning in my office. We discussed the ongoing Covid crisis and at no time did Martin suggest to me that it would be a nice idea to take advantage of the nice weather and to throw a bash for all the staff in No 10. And I definitely did not say that was a good idea, providing everyone brought their own booze as I was getting fed up with everyone getting pissed at my expense. I also don’t remember Martin giving me an odd wink on the way out and telling me not to read the email he was about to send urging everyone to work even harder. On their suntans. I then went back to my desk where I spent the day writing a speech about how the country needed to make personal sacrifices and anyone caught breaking lockdown restrictions would be banged up. And that’s about all I can remember.

No, it’s not. Go on: Er … after another tough day of being prime minister, I went downstairs with Carrie to have a quiet drink in the garden. When I got there, I was amazed to find Party Marty and 40 members of staff already sprawled out under the trestle tables and on the lawn. Not least because I had been expecting to find 100 people there. The invitation, that I hadn’t seen, had quite specifically instructed all Downing Street personnel to attend the work seminar on how to give a socially distanced PowerPoint party, so it was disappointing that so many people had bunked off early. That wasn’t the kind of “can-do” spirit I expected of my staff. I was then asked to give a short speech thanking the NHS heroes who were working night and day to fight the virus. My suggestion that the best way we could honour the doctors and nurses was by getting completely shit-faced was particularly well received. I’m afraid that after about half an hour I left this work event to go back upstairs to my flat, but I was pleased to see that the rest of the staff stayed on to work late into the night. One couple were so dedicated that they were still there the next morning. They had to be fished out of the flower beds, along with all the empties, by the Downing Street maintenance staff. One of the policemen at No 10 later told me he had watched the proceedings on the CCTV cameras and it had been one of the best work events he had ever seen at No 10. I told him that a prime minister always had to be alive to new ways of working.

Provide full details of the event at Downing Street on 19 June 2020: My birthday! My recollection of this is rather fuzzy. What I can remember is that I had been out at a school in Milton Keynes where I had lectured the children on the importance of not having a birthday party and had come back to Downing Street fully expecting to work alone in the cabinet room on the next phase of my Covid recovery plan. But immediately I got in the room I was ambushed by a cake, a crate of beers and about 20 people, including Carrie, Lulu Lytle and the chancellor. I was later told that it was Rishi Sunak who had organised this event, along with many others in Downing St, in an attempt to discredit me. At no point did I once consider this to have been a party, however, as no one was taken to hospital to have their stomach pumped. The two choruses of Happy Birthday to Me were merely sung to ensure that everyone in the room washed their hands for the requisite period of time. I then had a meeting with cabinet colleagues, Carrie and Lulu about how to get Lord Brownlow to pay for the hideous wallpaper. I didn’t even get a proper present.

Provide full details of the event(s) at Downing Street on 13 November 2020: It is possible that I may have very briefly dropped in to give a brief speech at Lee Cain’s leaving do. Which also definitely wasn’t a party. Just a work event at which everyone was getting pissed. And if I was there, I definitely said it was someone else’s turn to fill up the suitcase with booze at the Co-op. Not that there was a drinking culture on my watch. I’ve always been a stickler for keeping to the rules. “Sure you have,” said Caino. So it must be true.

What about the other event that night?: What party? I mean, event.

The one in your flat to celebrate Dominic Cummings’ exit: There wasn’t one. I should know. Because I was there. At no stage did Carrie ever have her friends into the flat because that would have been a breach of the regulations. Which you can see from my previous answers I would never have tolerated. As I said, I went up to the flat on my own to find that Carrie was singing along with her friends who weren’t there to an Abba documentary on the TV. “Could you turn it down a bit?” I asked, as I wanted to work. At some point I may have given up and joined the gang in a chorus of Mamma Mia, and this may be when I tripped over the dog and spilt red wine over the sofa. Which is where I was made to spend the night.

Provide full details of the events at Downing Street on 17 December 2020 and 14 January 2021: As you don’t appear to have any photographs of me at these alleged events, I am denying I was there. But if pictures do emerge of me, then I can assure you it was all entirely innocent and definitely not against the lockdown guidelines. All I’ve ever tried to do is serve my country and I don’t expect anyone who knows how hard I have worked to begrudge me doing what the hell I liked.

Provide full details of the event at Downing Street on 15 December 2020: Oh, FFS. Now you’re just being petty. One photo of me looking the worse for wear, an open magnum of champagne and two civil servants dressed in tinsel and paper hats and you immediately leap to the conclusion that we’re having a party. Haven’t you got anything better to do? This was clearly a work event. An exam to test the staff’s knowledge of which rules they were allowed to break. Hell, everyone was getting pissed with mates, weren’t they?

Are these your full answers and do you believe them to be true?: I do.

They sound like lies to us. Shall we just call it a £2,000 fixed penalty notice?: I don’t have my wallet on me. But Brownlow should see you right.

• An evening with Marina Hyde and John Crace: Join online Join Marina Hyde and John Crace looking back at the latest events in Westminster. On Monday 7th March, 8pm GMT | 9pm CET | 12pm PST | 3pm EST. Book tickets here

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