Partygate: Conservative MP claims PM "ambushed with a cake"
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In a post for Conservative Home, pollster and politician Lord Micheal Ashcroft KCMG PC has given a no-holds-barred analysis of Johnson’s current position, arguing that the accusations of illegal lockdown parties are just one of many problems facing the Prime Minister. Discussing partygate and particularly the recent claim that the Prime Minister was “ambushed” by a birthday cake, Lord Ashcroft first acknowledged the bizarreness of focusing on Boris Johnson’s birthday party while the Russia and Ukraine conflict nearly hit the point of open war.
However, he went on to say: “leaving aside the rights and wrongs, the political blunder is extraordinary.
“The Government otherwise has a reasonably good story to tell on Covid. After one of the most successful vaccination programmes in the world, Britain is the closest of any country in the northern hemisphere to being out of the pandemic.”
But, argues Lord Ashcroft, once the pandemic begins to fade, the cracks in Boris’ government will become all the more apparent.
He said: “During the crisis, people were willing to suspend judgement and give ministers the benefit of the doubt, but the ebbing tide of the pandemic reveals what else is on the government’s agenda – or rather, what isn’t.”
“‘Get Brexit Done, Unleash Britain’s Potential’ was the crisp and effective slogan of 2019.
“No one can deny that the first part was achieved in short order. We are still waiting for news on the second.”
The Levelling Up White Paper was promised “later this year” in a government press release in May 2021.
The White Paper, it was claimed, will articulate “how bold new policy interventions will improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country as we recover from the pandemic.”
However, such a plan has never been released.
Further doubt has been raised over the legitimacy of Boris’ promise to level up the whole country after it was revealed that two-thirds of the officials working on the process will be based in London.
Lord Ashcroft wrote: “The air of at least comparative competence that traditionally helps keep the conservatives in office seems to have taken a sabbatical.
“We see lavish spending on unreformed public services, higher taxes, and rocketing living costs spurred by the government’s own energy policies.
“The excellent aim of spreading opportunity and prosperity has been the driving force of the most successful Tory governments – promoting homeownership, encouraging new businesses, giving more people the chance to invest in industry, expanding university education and reforming welfare to make work pay all fall under that heading.
“What it means to Johnson remains an open question.
Despite his scathing criticisms, Lord Ashcroft maintained some positivity about the choice of Johnson as a leader, arguing that “vanishingly few will regret having helped send Johnson to Number 10. Still less will they repudiate the reasons why they did so.
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“For many, he represented a view of Britain that they shared, and which was a million miles from that of his opponents (he seemed to like it, for a start).
“Two years later, as the Prime Minister continues to give his many opponents the ammunition to eject him from office, they would do well to remember how and why he attained it.”
However, ultimately Mr Johnson’s focus on Brexit leaves him cold in the eyes of the electorate now that it has been achieved, says Lord Ashcroft.
He said: “by delivering Brexit, Johnson did what he was elected to do.
“But for his voters, that achievement was banked long ago.
“If they decide it’s time for him to go, it won’t just be because of warm Chardonnay in the Downing Street garden – it will be because there was so little else to remember.”
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