Boris Johnson has sought to reboot his premiership this week, unveiling a package of eye-catching measures as he tries to calm Tory tensions about last Thursday's election results. Such efforts though have been somewhat undermined by the announcement of the Metropolitan Police today that another 50 fines have been dished out to Downing Street staff over partygate.
Yet even before that, there were signs that the Queen's Speech on Tuesday hasn't gone down quite as well as expected. For one of Steerpike's spies has got in touch with a briefing from the bright young things over at Conservative Central Headquarters which was found lying in the House of Commons tea room. Stamped with the logo of the Conservative Research Department – the alma mater of Enoch Powell, Chris Patten and David Cameron – it details a suggested list of ten helpful questions for Tory MPs to ask during the Queen's Speech debate.
Among them include such fiendish leg-breakers as 'Does my Right Honourable Friend agree it is always the Conservative Party that the electorate can trust to deliver on their priorities?' and 'Does my Right Honourable Friend agree it is right we have plans to deliver the Schools Bill to serve children all across the UK?' Real hard-hitting stuff. Unfortunately it seems that of the ten, not a single one was asked by a Conservative MP during Boris Johnson's speech on Tuesday. A sign of the current mood in the parliamentary party, perhaps?
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael told Mr S: 'In years gone by, ambitious Conservative backbenchers would have been climbing over each other to ask questions like these from CCHQ to get noticed. But not only were none of these questions used, this was left lying around in the Commons tea room. It's a sign of just how much trouble Boris Johnson is in over partygate, his lies and failure to act on the cost of living crisis.' Ouch...