There’s been an awful lot of leaking about “Partygate”, and I now have my very own exclusive. A copy of the text of the prime minister’s next public apology to parliament* has reached me, and it is only right that I now publish it, and damn the Official Secrets Act. For a change, he’s going to tell us the truth. I hope you’ll agree it’s dynamite.
“Mr Speaker, I would like to make an apology. It has come to my attention that there may have been a handful of days – I cannot yet be more specific – during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 when social gatherings and boozy parties were organised in Downing Street, without my being there, or knowing about them.
“I wish to acknowledge at the outset, Mr Speaker, that many people feel angry to see me, a man they trusted always to do the wrong thing, lapsing in this way. People expect me to be dishonest and lack integrity, and be a massive hypocrite, and I recognise they may be disappointed.
“Mr Speaker, Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), closely related to NFI Syndrome, has been acknowledged as a major cause of stress in the modern world, and I too have suffered from it in the last days. And so I have instituted the Fear of FOMO Inquiry into how this regrettable state of affairs came to be.
“At this stage, I can tell the house that I deeply regret not having been actively involved in the planning of the booze-ups, knowing about their existence and, perhaps worst of all, not attending what seem to have been hog-whimperingly drunken bashes featuring near-bestial behaviour. One occurred on the eve of the funeral of his royal highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, when I specifically made it clear that this was supposed to happen before, during and after the service, and it wasn’t to get going until I turned up. A shameful episode.
“I have no alternative but to take the unusual step of asking someone who doesn’t work for me and who wasn’t at any of the parties to investigate the details of these events.
“However, even at this stage, it is plain to me that there were cases of that nice robust Italian red I prefer, missed opportunities for really bad dancing, people photocopying their bottoms, and, most regrettable of all, plenty of posh totty to chat up. Such revelations have been deeply painful to me.
“Again, I must tell the house of my sincere and deep sorrow that mistakes were made and that my usual codes of misbehaviour were not adhered to in all circumstances. I can only add that once I realised such events were going on I ran round with a bottle of Faithful Labrador sour mash, and dived in as quickly as I could.
“There was indeed one occasion when I went to what I thought was going to be a bit of a do, but turned out to be a work event. There was no alcohol, and people were messing about with spreadsheets or something, and I had to hang around for 25 minutes while they bored my arse off going on about vaccines. Only then did I return to the nearest wine cooler. I know now that as soon as I realised I had walked into a work event I should have showered them with Bolly.
“I can reassure the house that I tried to ignore the spirit and the letter of the lockdown rules at all times. Indeed it was throughout these dark days my deeply held belief that the laws and guidance I asked the nation to follow during lockdowns were fundamentally ridiculous and best waived in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. Even when I myself caught Covid because I didn’t take it seriously, and nearly died, as soon as possible after my recovery I returned to set an example of complacency. As far as possible, the science was not followed, as I hope those closest to me will readily attest.
“Nonetheless, it is apparent that in some circumstances isolated individuals in No 10 wore face coverings, maintained social distancing, stayed sober while framing policy, and even returned home after they’d finished work, ignoring the scope for catching and spreading the virus as they did so. Some even worked from home, despite every encouragement to come in and sneeze all over everyone.
“Mr Speaker, these cases of obeying public health rules will be dealt with in exemplary fashion. I have also heard reports that, misguidedly, some special advisers failed to smuggle suitcases of wine into the building, and neglected their duty to snog fellow members of the team in the basement. Newspaper reports that some of them actually cleaned their own mess up have also appalled me; I have always led by example and left the cleaners to sort out the mess. Or the cabinet secretary. Or a wife.
“I ask my friends in this house now to reflect the many times when I have betrayed them, misled the public, conned Her Majesty the Queen, and reneged on manifesto commitments and on international treaties, not to mention spouses, never ever having had any intention of honouring pledges solemnly entered into. It is a long record, one that carries the rare distinction of never having bought a round, coupled with some Olympian freeloading.
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“Mr Speaker, I am sure you too will agree that I have constantly strived to show you and the institution of parliament the maximum disrespect and discourtesy possible, and I can only apologise again for any impression that I may have inadvertently told the truth to this house.
“So the fact that I behaved quite out of character during a very few incidents in abiding by lockdown laws should not, I feel, detract from my reputation as an idle charlatan, bounder, cad, and mountebank. No one, not even my predecessor, David Cameron (actually a girly swot), has tried harder to put his feet up, knock off early and given less of a flying fart than me in leading this fantastic United Kingdom. I commend my apology to the house.”
With such a display of candour, how could anyone turn against their leader?
*as imagined by Sean O’Grady