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Saturday, Jan 29, 2022

Another day, another great exhibition of elite justice by career liar Boris Johnson

Another day, another great exhibition of elite justice by career liar Boris Johnson

The case of ‘accidentally withheld’ messages to a Tory donor has been convincingly closed via strongly worded letter
There were many excruciating bits in the exposure of Boris Johnson’s affair with cray-cray model-slash-infosec-entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri (who I can’t help but retain a soft spot for, even if she has been fully red-pilled these days). One of the worst, though, was when Arcuri found herself, in the eye of the media storm, being ghosted by Johnson. The one time she successfully got through to him on his mobile to ask him how to handle it, she found herself being mocked by someone “pretending to speak in a Chinese accent”. Or rather, “someone”. I cannot believe that this someone is now involved in further phone-related shithousery – but I guess you never really know anyone.

Still, like me, you probably cannot get enough of brilliant prime ministerial investigator Lord Geidt, whose ability to piece together highly complex cases such as “who paid for this £840 roll of wallpaper and why?” marks him out as one of the most fascinatingly unconventional detectives of the era. You’d stop just shy of comparing Geidt with Sherlock Holmes, perhaps – but in the decorative mystery of the Downing Street flat refurbishments, his lordship was certainly Ideal Holmes. Only Ideal Holmes would somehow be able to conclude absolutely nothing from the fact that in the very message in which the prime minister asked for a huge sum of money from a Tory donor, Johnson felt moved to add, apparently ingratiatingly, “PS am on the great exhibition plan Will revert”. Nor from the fact that in the very message in which the Tory donor told the prime minister the money was on the way, he replied – apparently ingratiated – “Thanks for thinking about GE2”.

This reboot of the Great Exhibition seems to have been something of a pet project for Lord Brownlow, who initially met £112,549 of Johnson’s decor bills himself. Less than two months after the above WhatsApp exchange, according to official ministerial records, Brownlow was – according to official ministerial records – meeting the then culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, “to discuss plans for Great Exhibition 2.0”. Just one of those weird instances of Jungian synchronicity that attend this government’s way of doing business, I guess. Something branded Festival UK is now happening instead, and Downing Street yesterday simply refused to say precisely how that event differs from the Great Exhibition 2.

Either way, the whole saga is certainly a great exhibition of British establishment accountability. After the Electoral Commission discovered these “accidentally withheld” WhatsApp messages in its own probe into the affair, Lord Geidt was forced to reopen his original investigation, but has now concluded once more that career liar Johnson did not intend to mislead. Or to put it in strictly procedural terms, his lordship has taken a second dive into the barrel of tits, and still come up sucking his thumb. The case has been closed via strongly worded letter – my favourite type of elite justice. I think all punks have to ask themselves: did he fire off six pieces of headed notepaper or only five? Do I feel lucky? Well, DO I?

I think most of us would take our chances, let’s face it. Indeed, it’s hard not to laugh at the entire concept of Boris Johnson having a “standards adviser” – it’s like discovering Mark Zuckerberg has a stylist. Or, indeed, a standards adviser. Anyway, now the “Great Exhibition” angle is being queried, you’re probably wondering if the investigation could be reopened by Johnson’s corruption tsar. And you’re probably forgetting that Johnson’s corruption tsar is the guy married to Dido Harding. Take a moment. I needed one too.

As for the still-undead Downing Street decoration saga, what’s not to enjoy in these new glimpses of Johnson trying to come off as aesthetically sensitive? In the messages to Brownlow, the prime minister explains that the flat is a “bit of a tip”. Strong words, coming from the lovechild of Uncle Fester and Cousin Itt. Whatever transformation the interior designer Lulu Lytle eventually wrought on the place, I imagine it is by now enhanced by red wine stains and bits of Stilton trodden into the carpet. Takeaway wrappers down the back of the sofa: model’s own.

Of course, the real driving force behind the refurb was not Johnson but his wife, Carrie. I know she bangs on about rented dresses and stuff, but her financial positioning is starting to feel a bit “Kate in the streets, Meghan in the 500-thread-count sheets”. John Lewis furniture and fittings would be right at the upper end of what most British people would ever feel able to afford – and yet, I don’t think we’re in John Lewis any more, Toto.

Speaking of which, I used to think the only person I wanted to read on the Johnsons’ flat saga was chief justice of interiors, Nicky Haslam. Regrettably, however, Nicky has been bumped down my wishlist by previous No 10 occupant Theresa May, who was famously pictured at home in this very well-appointed dump. “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BREAK YOUR SILENCE, MRS MAY” are not words I ever expected to type, but here we all are. I desperately, desperately want to hear a defence of the tip by the no-nonsense tastemaker who created it – ideally at pamphlet length, but would settle for a 3,000-worder.

Failing that, can the Great Exhibition/Festival UK include some of these absolute prize human exhibits? We could have a whole pavilion dedicated to Chancers, Chisellers and Chintz-grifters, and never have to leave a single street in Westminster to fill it.
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