I’m back on the road until August with my five-star standup show, Snowflake Tornado, mouthing confirmation-bias to packed rooms of masked elitists. Over six nights at the Oxford Playhouse, I saw the familiar and friendly staff and crowds return, though the historic Eagle and Child pub sadly appears to have closed. It was here in 1933, apparently, that JRR Tolkien thought up the terrifying fissure the Crack of Doom after hearing a becubicled CS Lewis battle the afterburn of an especially potent Old Peculiar. But I am waiting for an inquiry by the very experienced civil servant Sue Gray to decide if this story is true. Dominic Cummings claims to have recorded evidence of the incident, but sceptics suggest it may just be a tape of him squelching his hand under his own armpit. That’s why you have Sue Gray looking at all the details. Let Sue Gray do her job.
Sadly, the two-year pandemic hiatus has rendered my 20-minute routine on what I imagined the new woke Bond film would be like irrelevant, but a section summarising Boris Johnson’s dismal career of flaccid dishonesty now makes a satisfying conclusion to the show for the performatively disgusted crowd, hopefully until the tour ends in August. Thus I am probably the only champagne socialist who wants the party-blind PM to stay. But the prudent thing is to wait for Sue Gray to report. Sue Gray is a very senior civil servant. Sue Gray is very well able to conduct this investigation.
In his co-authored 2012 treatise Britannia Unzipped, the justice secretary, Dominic Calais Raab, declared: “The British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor.” Luckily, despite their well-documented love of raiding the newly bought £142 Downing Street wine fridge every week for Wine-Time Fridays, it appears the staff at No 10 are the exception. Raab himself justified their right to bring their own bottles to work, saying they have been “working phenomenally hard under gruelling conditions”. Maybe the fridge was bought for Johnson to hide in in case Beth Rigby asked him a question. No one knows. That why you have Sue Gray looking at all the details. Sue Gray is all across these issues. Let Sue Gray do her job.
On the BBC on Monday, the PM was incoherently defended by the education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, whose taxpayer-heated horses were never knowingly underwarmed, and on Sky, the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, said, strangely: “We are waiting for an inquiry by a very formidable servile servant Sue Gray to conclude.” Did Dorries’s “servile” blunder betray her inner hope that Sue Gray would compliantly exonerate the boss she has to answer to or was it just a slip of the tongue? Who can be sure? The prudent thing now is to wait for Sue Gray to report. Sue Gray can follow the evidence wherever it takes her. We must have patience while Sue Gray carries out her inquiry.
On Sunday, the Conservatives launched Operation Red Meat, a transparent attempt to placate the ravenous dire wolves on the far right of the party with the announcement of a host of poorly thought-out populist policies. But the Royal Navy, which, like all the armed forces, is increasingly marketed as a relief agency whose staff happen to carry rifles, wasn’t keen to murder children in the sea just to detract from Johnson’s wine and Doritos habit; and the entire country of Ghana, floated by Priti Patel as a possible offshore processing plant for migrants, sent out a press release announcing, with Dorries-like levels of unintended accuracy, that it wanted no part of “Operation Dead Meat”. Why had Patel said Ghana was on board? Sue Gray will look at all the various issues. Sue Gray is very well able to conduct this investigation. Sue Gray will do an absolutely thorough job.
On Twitter last Sunday, Dorries said the next BBC licence fee settlement would be the last, but in parliament she then said that wasn’t the case, having created some confusion to distract further from her leader’s generally assumed criminality. On LBC on Wednesday, the Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, Matt Warman, tried to argue that both of Dorries’s contradictory positions were simultaneously correct, a kind of Schrödinger’s licence fee settlement that was both the last and not the last as well. But what was the truth? Sue Gray is across all these issues. We need to know the facts and that is what Sue Gray is doing.
Taking us back to where we began, David Davis concluded PMQs on Wednesday by addressing Johnson with the very quote famously attributed to the Christian mystic and latchkey incontinent Charles Williams, as he waited patiently outside the Eagle and Child toilet cubicle still occupied by a flatulent CS Lewis: “You have sat there too long for all the good you have done. In the name of God, go.” But has the prime minister sat there too long? That’s what the Sue Gray inquiry is for. Sue Gray is across all these issues. Sue Gray will look at all the various issues. That’s why you have Sue Gray looking at all the details. Let Sue Gray do her job. The prudent thing now is to wait for Sue Gray to report. Sue Gray is a very senior civil servant. Sue Gray is very well able to conduct this investigation. Sue Gray will do an absolutely thorough job. Sue Gray can follow the evidence wherever it takes her. Anything Sue Gray needs to do she will be able to do. We need to know the facts and that is what Sue Gray is doing. We request patience while Sue Gray carries out her inquiry.