Thursday, 21st April, 2022

[Day 766]

We are still in our period of fine weather and so we are still enjoying some spring sunshine – even the cool wind had moderated somewhat. Today being a Thursday was our ‘food shopping’ day so I made sure that I was outside the door of the supermarket a minute or so before the doors opened at 8.00am. There were about four of us in the queue and, of course, once inside we seem to disperse very rapidly. I got all of my shopping done in just about an hour and then I went off to collect our newspaper before getting back home and unpacking the shopping. Then Meg and I strolled down to the park at a very leisurely pace and we seemed to meet a lot of our friends and acquaintances on route. For a start we met our Irish friend before we got into the park and chatted about her recent holiday. Then, as we were sitting in the park, we were passed by two prominent members of the church we attend on Saturday evenings and discussed how the celebrations had gone in the Easter vigil last Saturday. Then we had a chat with our Italian friend who was walking in the park with her companion so all in all, we seem to have had quite a conversation-filled morning. We got home just after 1.00pm ad then had a completely vegeterian lunch of quiche, carrots finished off in some hot walnut oil and with a touch of syrup to add some sweetness and finally, the remainder of some spring greens. We found the whole very tasty and then settled down, after lunch. to watch the debate in the House of Commons.

As it turned out, the Tories got themselves into a bit of a mess over the vote which was on a motion proposed by the Labour Party that the PM be referred to the Committee on Priveliges (a committee which in one shape or form goes back centuries) Last night, the Tories tabled an amendment to the effect that any referral to the Committee on Privileges should be delayed until after the Met police enquiry was concluded and the Sue Gray report was both concluded but also published. This was largely seen as a ‘kicking of the can down the road’ and it became evident to the government whips that a lot of Tory MPs would suddenly discover that they ‘had COVID’ and would absent themselves from the vote. The Labour Party had promised to plaster the constitutencies of all MPs who voted to delay the further investigation and support Boris Johnson with news of their backing for the PM and this might have spelled electoral disster for them. The government whips realised that they could not win the vote on their own amendment and withdrew it. Then they announced that Tory MP’s could vote however they wanted. In the event, when the question was put to the House at the end of the debate, there was not a single ‘Noe’ in response to the Speaker’s traditional question and therefore the whole Labour motion went through ‘on the nod’ without a vote taking place. When Meg and I observed some of the debate, it was principally crowded opposition benches telling heart-rending tales of how their constitutemts were not allowed a few minutes with their dying relatives as the Tories were partyfying. The tone of the debate was set by senior Brexiteer, Steve Baker, who told the Boris Johnson to resign over the partygate saga, sayig ‘The gig is up’. In an amazing U-turn, Steve Baker had led to the de-fenestration of Teresa May in favour of Boris Johnson. Of course, Opposition MPs had prepared their speeches which they delivered to a House of Commons in which there were only about 4-5 Tories in the Chamber to be berated by the Opposition benches. The whole point about being referred to the Committee on Privileges is that this Committee has extraordinary power to call for documents, including photographs (several of which are known to exist and are incriminating) If found to have misled the House, then Boris Johnson could be suspended from the Commons and might even be subject to the members of his constituency being allowed to have a vote of recall. In the view of all of this, the word on the street today is that the Prime Minister is already ‘toast’ One is reminded that when Margaret Thatcher was out of the country in Paris, the Tories turned against her as she failed to muster sufficient votes in a Tory leadership election. Boris Johnson is on a visit to India at the moment – was this ill-advised? It used to be said that Soviet leaders were anxious at travelling abroad lest they be deposed in their absence. According to the Channel 4 political editor, Gary Gibbon, the Speaker of the House of Commons gave special dispensation for the word ‘liar’ to be used with reference to Boris Johnon as normally it would be contrary to the rules of the House and unparliamentarty language to use the word ‘liar’