ANNA MIKHAILOVA: Cheers! Boris Johnson left the No 10 garden gathering… to call the Queen

  • Prime Minister left garden party to have a 28-minute call with Her Majesty
  • It’s not known whether he described the cheese and wine to the Queen 
  • No 10 secretary invited guests to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’ with PM
  • Meanwhile MPs’ surgeries should be reviewed – and Keir’s principles in question 

The infamous Downing Street garden knees-up in May 2020 has just taken a new twist, thanks to a reply to a Freedom of Information request.

Boris Johnson has already apologised for the impromptu bring-your-own-bottle event, pictured, to which his principal private secretary invited guests to ‘make the most of the lovely weather’ – at a time when the rest of us were ordered to stay indoors to save lives.

The PM said he had gone into the garden ‘just after 6 o’clock […] before going back into my office 25 minutes later to continue working’.

No 10 officials have now disclosed that Johnson went straight from the knees-up to have a 28-minute phone call with the Queen, beginning at 18.30.

It’s not known whether Johnson (left, lower right with wife Carrie) told the Queen (right) about the day’s revelries. Downing Street has refused to disclose further details of the PM’s diary

Did he, one wonders, tell Her Majesty of the excellent wine and cheese he had just enjoyed with Carrie Antoinette? 

As for what happened after the call, it’s for the police to find out because No 10 has refused to disclose further details of the PM’s diary that day.

Despite admitting there is a ‘general public interest’ in doing so, officials claim the information would compromise the ‘safe space’ in which Johnson’s private office manages his work ‘without external interference and distraction’.

To me, it sounds like the (BYOB) distractions were actually coming from inside that office.

Time to stop MPs’ surgeries

Harrowing details that emerged during the trial of the murderer of Tory MP Sir David Amess have led to an urgent rethink about MPs’ accessibility to the public.

Senior Tory MP Sir Charles Walker tells me that Sir David’s stabbing by an Islamic State fanatic should be a ‘wake-up call’ and wants a review on whether MPs should continue to hold constituency surgeries to give people an opportunity to meet them.

David Amess (pictured in his official parliamentary portrait) was murdered during a constituency surgery in Southend West

Although the killer cased Michael Gove’s house and plotted attacks on Sir Keir Starmer as well as other MPs, he finally targeted Sir David because he was ‘the easiest’.

The Southend West MP liked to host Friday surgeries at a church but Sir Charles says such open-house and publicly advertised meetings are ‘from another age’.

He added: ‘With Zoom, email and increased staff numbers, most issues can be dealt with on a much more immediate basis and there’s scant need for someone to meet their MP in person to have their case dealt with.’ The Tory grandee says people who still need a face-to-face with their MP could arrange a meeting without the location being advertised.

Some argue that scrapping surgeries would make our political system less democratic.

But keeping the archaic practice makes MPs too vulnerable and, I fear, will ultimately deter good people from public office. That will do a lot more damage to democracy than scrapping a weekly meet-and-greet ever could.

‘Those are my principles and if you don’t like them, well, I have others.’ 

Groucho Marx’s gag sums up Sir Keir Starmer’s approach after another screeching Labour right-turn, this time backing ‘injunctions’ against climate-change hoodlums. 

Which human rights chambers is at the forefront of the protesters’ ‘lawful excuse’? 

Why, none other than Doughty Street, where Starmer QC was once a leading light.

Hereditary peers have not escaped the energy crisis. 

Lord Bethell tweeted: ‘What’s the best way to find a petrol station with some, um, actual petrol in London? Tank on ‘EMPTY’ and a massive weekend of Dad-taxi ahead.’ 

I hope he had better luck finding a pump than he did, as Health Minister, locating Whats-App messages relating to £85 million of Covid test contracts he claimed to have ‘lost’.

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