OPINION - Johnson authorised Afghan animal rescue, email suggests

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 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

Sue Gray’s report into alleged lockdown parties in Downing Street may be published today, after all. Which threatens to give this newsletter the shelf-life of a week-old avocado that’s fallen down the side of an airing cupboard.

So I will merely point you towards Deputy Political Editor David Bond’s excellent review of a tempestuous PMQs, before pivoting to another web of confusion spun by the Prime Minister.

Do you remember Pen Farthing and his attempts to airlift dogs and cats out of Afghanistan during the fall of Kabul? Boris Johnson previously maintained he had no role in the evacuation of the animals by the Nowzad charity, run by the former Royal Marine. He branded the claims that pets received priority over people “complete nonsense.”

So it may or may not shock you to learn that a leaked email now suggests that the Prime Minister personally authorised the evacuation. Evidence published by the Foreign Affairs Committee shows an aide to Lord Goldsmith, minister in the Foreign Office, emailing colleagues:

“Equivalent charity Nowzad, run by an ex-Royal Marine, has received a lot of publicity and the PM has just authorised their staff and animals to be evacuated, [animal charity - name redacted] are hoping to be treated in the same capacity.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said today that it “remains the case that the PM didn’t instruct officials to take any particular course of action.” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has also denied the claims.

Elsewhere in the paper, imagine an irreverent, intensely considered wine bar that does away with any lingering notions of provincial, Eighties naffness. You don’t have to: Jimi Famurewa reviews Carousel on Charlotte Street.

In the comment pages, looking on at the chaos in Downing Street, Ayesha Hazarika – a former special advisor herself – concludes there are far too many poshos in the job. She also reminisces about her Burns Night supper, by the end of which she “sounded like a drunk Lorraine Kelly.”

Meanwhile, record company executive Jamie Collinson says that Damon Albarn is right about songwriting – he’s just wrong about Taylor Swift.

And finally, it’s ‘colder than a witch’s tit‘... apparently as well as 49 other British sayings at risk of dying out.

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