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The “absurd overreaction” to partygate

Dan Kitwood/Getty

Of all the sins for which Boris Johnson deserved to lose his job, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph, “his public mutterings about office parties would not even make the top 20”. What actually forced him out of No 10 was that he ran a “court of chaos” in which his own MPs eventually refused to serve. But now, the “absurd overreaction” of the partygate investigation, and the shaky evidence it’s been able to uncover, has given him something he doesn’t deserve: “the ability to say he was framed”.

Nowhere in the 108-page report is there any hard evidence for the Privileges Committee’s conclusion that Johnson “deliberately” misled parliament. There is plenty that reveals an “appalling culture” in which Downing Street was, in the words of one staffer, an “oasis” away from the harsh lockdown regime the rest of us were stuck with. But did Johnson himself know about “wine-time Fridays”? He says not and, odd as it sounds, “I believe him”. The former PM is a master of “plausible deniability” and has a sixth sense for when things are going on that “he’d best not know about”. We should be glad our MPs are on the warpath over Covid, but instead of “blowing poison darts at each other” they ought to be focused on the real questions. Did lockdowns even work? Why were critical voices systematically silenced? But of course, “all parties backed lockdowns”, so there’s no appetite for asking difficult questions. “Far easier to fire bullets into Johnson’s political corpse.”