OPINION - No 10 apologises to the Queen over lockdown parties

·2-min read
 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

Did Downing Streetapologise to the Queen by phone or letter? How large was the suitcase that transported wine from the Co-op – carry-on size or one of those mammoth long-haul bags? Has Wilf Johnson’s broken swing been fixed?

Just some of the questions for the Prime Minister on another febrile day in Westminster, as Boris Johnson’s leadership plunges deeper into crisis.

The Prime Minister is still banking that Sue Gray’s report, due next week (but frankly she has every right to apply for an extension given the number of additional alleged parties seems to double each day) will absolve him of breaking the law. But the danger persists.

Not least because, while I’m not a polling expert, my impression is the British public rather like the Queen. Sure, that’s never been tested at the ballot box, but my heuristic is that, should our constitutional settlement change, she would romp home with North Korean levels of support.

In fact, there’s a weekend of fun to be had playing with YouGov’s page on the Queen. Her majesty has 96 per cent name recognition (which... feels low?) and perhaps most impressively is liked almost identically by Leavers and Remainers.

So to find yourself having to apologise for hosting parties – on the eve of the funeral for the Sovereign’s husband of 73 years – is really quite bad politics from a Downing Street that won a referendum and an 80-seat parliamentary majority.

For clarity, Johnson did not attend this party, based as he was at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat. But as we write in today’s leader, the culture is set at the top.

Elsewhere in the paper, Covid-19 is still growing. Latest figures released this afternoon show the R number for England lies between 1.1 and 1.5.

In the comment pages, Emily Sheffield wonders how many more Number 10 parties will it take before Boris Johnson resigns? She also observes that no matter what happens, the European Research Group (ERG) always seems to win.

Meanwhile, Royal Editor Robert Jobson reflects on Prince Andrew, and how a man on a mission came crashing down in tide of scandal.

And finally, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville reveals he has recently joined the Labour Party, and he is not ruling out running for mayor.

Have a lovely weekend.

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