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11 December 2019updated 08 Jun 2021 10:52am

Evening Call: Today Boris Johnson literally shut himself in a fridge

By Jonn Elledge

Ah, election eve. The last minute rush to finish all your election shopping. Election carols round the election tree. Leaving a glass of sherry and a bit of carrot out for John Curtice. It’s all very nice, but it’s never quite as magical as the elections of your childhood, is it?

Anyway, with roughly 14 hours left before polling stations open, here’s where we are. Last night, YouGov’s MRP model became the latest poll to show that the Tory lead has narrowed, fairly significantly: it now projects a majority of just under 30 seats, compared to over 60 in late November.

But, crucially, that’s still a Tory majority, of a scale last seen when Margaret Thatcher was still living in Downing Street. Admittedly, there’s no agreement about how big the Tory lead is – some show the party ahead by as much as 13 points, which is getting into landslide territory; others have it at more like six or seven which, thanks to the abject stupidity of Britain’s electoral system, means there is at least a chance, though probably not a huge one, of a hung parliament.

But the one thing the polls do agree on is that the Tories are in the lead. Barring a polling upset on a scale that would make 2015 and 2017 – and the Brexit referendum, and the last US presidential race – look like minor blips, this country is about to re-elect the Conservative party for a fourth term, sort of, and to give Boris Johnson a mandate to remain Prime Minister.

In unrelated news, earlier today, Boris Johnson was asked for an interview and literally hid in a fridge.

Some context is necessary here, so that you don’t, like I did, imagine the Prime Minister literally cramming himself into a small kitchen cooling device, like Indiana Jones avoiding a nuke. The interview request, from a producer of Good Morning Britain – a show on which Johnson had previously agreed to appear – was re-iterated to the PM on the premises of Modern Milkman in Pudsey, West Yorkshire. Told that he is live on ITV at that very moment, Johnson responded with, “I’ll be with you in a second” and walked through a door into a small refrigerated room stacked with milk bottles.

There’s a name for places like that. That name is “fridge”.

“He’s gone into the fridge,” Piers Morgan responded from the safety of his warm London studio, reminding us all why he earns the big bucks. Meanwhile, one of Johnson’s aides could be heard using the sort of language that would divert this email to your spam filter.

It’s worth noting at this point spokespeople later clarified that Johnson was “categorically not hiding” while he hid in a fridge. And while no Tory sources, senior or otherwise, have so far attempted to brief the media that, outside the liberal metropolitan bubble, people hide in fridges all the time, and that this only goes to show how out of touch the media is with the real Britain, it can surely only be a matter of time.

There are many reasons to be saddened that it seems likely that this country is about to reward Johnson’s venality with re-election. The lies. The cowardice. The damage he did as foreign secretary. The refusal to accept responsibility for his own actions, or hold himself in any way accountable. But a big one, that’s been under-discussed of late – ever since it became clear that, despite appearances, this was a serious political player – is that he’s just really, humiliatingly, embarrassing.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister of Great Britain & Northern Ireland looks set to be re-elected. And on the day before, he hid in a fridge.

Hold tight, best beloved. There is only one day to go.

Good day for…

Clutching at straws. I’ve been doing just that, trying to find some rays of light amidst the all-encompassing dark that could fall over Britain when the exit poll drops tomorrow night at 10pm. My favourite: Zac Goldsmith looks extremely likely to lose Richmond Park. I love a teachable moment.

Bad day for….

Laura Kuennsberg. Again. This time, she’s in hot water for talking about how postal votes are looking, which you’re really not supposed to do until the polls have closed. As LBC producer Ava Santina tweeted, “I really have no explanation of how this is allowed under broadcasting code.” Oh dear.

While we’re on the subject:

Quote of the day

“It may be an offence to communicate any information obtained at postal vote opening sessions, including about votes cast, before a poll has closed.”

A tweet from the Electoral Commission. Not naming any names.

Everybody’s talking about…

Fake news, still. A report from disinformation specialists First Draft found that 88 per cent of Facebook ads from the Tory party included claims that had already been labelled misleading by fact-checkers. As Jasper noted in his write-up, all the parties are being dishonest online – but the Conservatives are better at it.

Everybody should be talking about…

The NHS, which despite being an issue at almost every election over 70 years – and despite it being winter, when life in the health service is hardest, and despite the fact one of the most memorable moments of the campaign involved the difficulties it’s face right now – has barely come up.

Luckily, one of our resident medics, Dr Phil Whitaker, has a great column in this week’s New Statesman on this very topic. A decade of austerity and the Brexit-related loss of EU workers have left the NHS in England short of around 40,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors. The service is facing a perpetual winter, he argues.


Those who are hungry for more of my opinions about the election may wish to tune into the Sarah Brett show on Radio 5Live at 10.30pm tonight, because I’ll be on it.

Questions? Comments? Email me. And if you’re enjoying this email – why not tell your friends? (Seriously.)

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