Boris Johnson, the greased piglet, has wriggled free on Partygate

With just a little squealing and just the one fixed penalty notice, off he scampers back to the pigsty that is his political homestead

<p>The Labour Party wanted to transform him into a string of pork sausages, but perhaps for Johnson, the ‘wurst’ may be over</p>

The Labour Party wanted to transform him into a string of pork sausages, but perhaps for Johnson, the ‘wurst’ may be over

I think it was David Cameron (and he should know) who gave us this invaluable insight into Boris Johnson: “The thing about the greased piglet is that he manages to slip through other people’s hands where mere mortals fail.”

It does rather seem like the greased piglet has indeed wriggled out of the grasp of his persecutors. With just a little squealing and just the one fixed penalty notice, off he scampers back to the pigsty that is his political homestead. He will not, this time, be turned into someone’s bacon sandwich.

The Labour Party wanted to transform him into a string of pork sausages, but perhaps for Johnson, the “wurst” may be over. It is, frankly, astonishing. Outrageous, even. It certainly looks like multiple flagrant breaches of the law occurred – because we’ve seen the photographs and the CCTV stills, and heard about the witness statements.

“Downing It” Street, it seems, was party central. Boris and Carrie even had a party in their own flat, as well as in the garden. The Met seem to have taken a rather lenient view of the facts. I also expect that Johnson had the benefit of the best (and most expensive) legal advice.

The Sue Gray Report will be a snicker, for sure, but “judge and jury” was the Metropolitan Police and their lawyers, and they’ve given Johnson the benefit of the doubt. Unless there’s a picture of Johnson with his trousers around his ankles, passed out in a corner, he’ll probably survive this.

The most shameful, dispiriting, embarrassing aspect of Partygate is that at the conclusion of this, the only people to have lost their jobs in the whole affair will be Allegra Stratton, who wasn’t at any of the “events” as far as we know, Lord Wolfson, who quit the government in protest, former London mayor hopeful Shaun Bailey, who didn’t really have anything much to give up, three hapless Downing Street scapegoats (Jack Doyle, Dan Rosenfield and Martin Reynolds) – plus Keir Starmer, in the unlikely event that the Durham Police fine him for the much flimsier “beergate” allegations. Just reflect on that glorious outcome of the workings of the British judicial system.

The constant tactic of buying time, waiting for this, waiting for that, looking for other distractions to turn up, (such as a European war), ignoring questions, obfuscating, slinging mud around and generally hoping for the best as the inquiry dragged on – it all paid off in the end. It seems highly unlikely that Johnson will be faced with a vote of no confidence and a leadership challenge. With one squeal the piglet has struggled free, free to give the Tories a fifth successive general election victory.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment, sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

Or maybe not quite. The important thing to remember in all this is that Boris Johnson is the opposition parties’ (not just Labour’s) greatest political asset. He is the bombastic bluffer who just keeps giving them the gifts of chaos and callousness that enabled Partygate in the first place. When people say the culture of Downing Street is all wrong, they never seem to consider how the bloke at the top might be setting the tone and (not) leading by example.

How many new teams has he had in now, supposedly to impose discipline and reason on a man who has made indiscipline and unreason a way of life? Right now, Johnson is opposing the hugely popular windfall tax on the big energy companies (as far as can be judged, as it does seem to change from day to day).

Johnson, when he was mulling which side to back in the Brexit referendum, described himself as “wobbling around like a broken shopping trolley”, and it’s true. He is Mr Dither and Delay, ironically. And his greatest achievement, Brexit, is starting to look a bit of a flop.

But still he survives, and his closest rivals have either blown themselves up (Rishi Sunak) or run out of momentum (Liz Truss and Jeremy Hunt). He is a lucky little greased piglet, is he? But not so lucky for his party, which is now lumbered with this proven vote-loser. It might not be much good for the country in the short term, but Johnson’s survival makes the continuation of Conservative rule that much less likely.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in