At the start of this year, the Westminster commentariat wisely stroked its collective chin and declared that the Prime Minister was on safer ground than before Christmas.
The countless stories of parties at No 10 during Covid-19 restrictions, though still clearly affecting the Conservative Party’s standing in the polls, had at least died down.
A new variant came along, allowing Boris Johnson to stand in front of a lectern looking mildly serious a few times. With Michael Gove’s crapper-than-it-sounds announcement of cladding support, the spin machine was back in action, whirring away nicely for 2022. Order was restored.
Yet one leaker, whose identity the Chatterer would not attempt to guess, decided new year would not mean “new normal” for the PM, and dropped yet another bomb about No 10’s lockdown parties to ITV.
The timing, for everyone who thought Alexander Boris de Teflon Johnson would simply get away with it again, is perfect. And looking back, these exposés have always been expertly timed. The Mirror’s original story about a No 10 Christmas party, followed up by ITV with the clip of then press spokesperson Allegra Stratton joking about a cheese and wine “business meeting”, were devastatingly pitched at the very beginning of December – just as the country was turning its weary mind to Christmas parties for the first time in two years.
Then there was the Guardian’s exclusive No 10 garden drinks photo of Johnson and his wife and other staff around tables with wine allegedly taken during the original lockdown in May 2020, released as Omicron’s spread put Covid restrictions and lockdowns once again at the top of the news agenda and to the front of voters’ minds.
If it’s the same leaker each time, the Chatterer raises a glass of Dry January light white grape Shloer to them for keeping up the momentum.