After the pomp and circumstance of yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, Tory MPs were on their best behaviour last night as they trooped into Downing Street to attend evening drinks with the Prime Minister. Boris Johnson has instituted a series of these receptions in recent months, as part of a belated effort to ‘love bomb’ his restless backbenchers. Such invites are part of a broader strategy to make Conservative MPs feel more involved in government strategy, with Andrew Griffith and Steve Barclay both being given key Downing Street posts to try to reflect the priorities of their colleagues in the parliamentary party.
Around 200 MPs rocked up last night, for what one loyalist described as a ‘very enjoyable’ occasion. No Red Wall MPs were spotted dancing – unlike the Tories’ ‘away day’ dinner at the Westminster Park Plaza hotel in March. The evening was enlivened, however, when Boris Johnson tried to address the troops in the No. 10 garden – home of wine and cheese soirées and rose garden press conferences. For Dilyn the dog, the wayward whelp of Westminster, immediately began barking and yapping as the poor PM tried to speak. One backbencher said that ‘the dog was a great source of entertainment and got very excited when he went up to speak.’
A dissident heckler, perhaps? Another attendee remarked to Mr S that ‘Perhaps two years in No. 10 has given Dilyn Labour sympathies’ as the ‘out of control’ dog tore around the guests. It’s not the first time of course that the Johnson family pet has caused Boris problems – he’s previously been accused of damaging antiques at Chequers while a press report that he was about to leave No. 10 caused a minor storm in the middle of Covid.
Given all the other dramas in his life, perhaps the PM should have just stuck with poor old Larry the cat…