Once upon a time it was the 'Notting Hill set' which ran the Tory party, with David Cameron, George Osborne and Michael Gove all boasting homes there. Now though, the Cameroons are largely gone and if there can be said to be an alternative London clique, it will be found seven miles south, in the leafy surroundings of Richmond. For the district is the power base of Carrie Johnson, who worked there for local MP Zac Goldsmith, the defra minister who now sits in the Lords alongside longtime Richmond council leader Nicholas True. The latter's daughter Sophia also works in No. 10 as a special adviser.
But now a little-noticed answer by Lord True has made life slightly more tricky for Boris, Carrie, Sophia and their colleagues in No. 10. For the noble peer serves in the Cabinet Office and has had to face numerous questions about 'partygate' and the raucous shenanigans that did or did not take place in Downing Street during 2020. One previous defence of these activities was that they took place on 'Crown property' and as such would be exempt for Covid restrictions – a question that prompted much legal debate from Twitter's finest QC minds. But this week, responding to a question put by Green peer Jenny Jones, True has confirmed on behalf of the government that Boris Johnson's home is a Crown property but that coronavirus regulations which 'relate to the activities of people, apply regardless of whether those activities took place on Crown property or not.'
As such, No. 10 did indeed have to follow government guidelines and rules on indoor mixing bans when they were in place throughout the pandemic. Very accommodating of his lordship to clear that one up for us. It's one less defence for the government spinners to hide behind – and with today's briefings against Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield and Principal Private Secretary Martin Reynolds – it looks like they're running out of human shields too.