Allegra stratton

Stratton resigns – but the row isn’t over

The row over the Downing Street ‘party’ has claimed its first victim. On Wednesday Allegra Stratton announced that she was resigning from government. Her decision followed the leaked footage of a practice press briefing in which Stratton — then spokeswoman for the Prime Minister — appeared to joke about a lockdown breaching No. 10 party four days after is alleged to have taken place. Addressing reporters outside her home, Stratton — who most recently has been working on the COP26 summit — said she was deeply sorry for her comments:  My remarks seemed to make light of the rules, rules that people were doing everything to obey. That was never my intention. I

Freddy Gray

The phoney war on Allegra Stratton

There’s something telling about the alacrity with which the SW1 hive mind has seized on the leaked clip of Allegra Stratton. For our slightly depraved opinion-forming class, the sight of the Prime Minister’s press spokesperson sniggering about a party that apparently happened in No. 10 at a time when the government had ordered us all not socialise was just too delicious. Journalists, who tend to regard themselves as extraordinary people, decided en masse that here at last was a story that ordinary people — the commoners — can be excited by and angry about. The blue-checks of Twitter quickly pronounced that this bit of news had ‘cut through’ — that

The truth about the government and ‘herd immunity’

I spent much of the 1980s and 1990s reporting on company chief executives who didn’t understand the distinction between mine and theirs. They enjoyed lavish lifestyles — company flats, art collections, huge expense accounts — without the owners of the company (you and me through our pension funds) having a clue. Then came the corporate governance revolution, and much of this was cleaned up. So I had déjà vu earlier this week when reporting that the Tory party had loaned tens of thousands of pounds to lavishly decorate and refurnish the PM’s home in Downing Street. Maybe Tory donors and members think this is an appropriate use of their money.

Boris in a spin: can the PM find his way again?

Something strange is going on in Westminster: nearly every minister and Tory MP has a spring in their step. It’s not (just) the vaccine breakthrough, or the magic money tree now bearing such fruit in the back garden of HM Treasury. The liberation-of-Paris feel in locked-down Westminster is inspired by the departure of Boris Johnson’s senior Vote Leave aides, Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. Tories of all stripes seem to think they will now get what they want. When the news broke that the pair were to leave Downing Street with immediate effect — following a power tussle with the Prime Minister’s partner Carrie Symonds and new press spokeswoman Allegra

Boris’s hero Pericles didn’t need a spokeswoman

A spokeswoman has been appointed ‘to communicate with the nation on behalf of the Prime Minister’. He apparently needs ‘a protective ring of steel’ and Tories feel that she will be the answer. So getting someone else to say what the PM thinks solves all problems? Really? It is inconceivable that Boris Johnson’s hero Pericles would have sent someone else to speak and answer questions on his behalf before Athens’s democratic citizen assembly. (The spokesman would have been given the world’s shortest shrift — ‘a confession before execution’ — anyway.) The reason why Pericles would never have dreamed of such idiocy was that his success as a statesman depended entirely