Boris Johnson has launched a rear-guard action to defend his job as UK Prime Minister in the face of rumblings of discontent among Conservative Party MPs following weeks of “Tory sleaze” allegations.
Mr Johnson is facing attacks from the UK Labour Party opposition and other parties as well as from some MPs in his own Conservative Party concerned about his mishandling of several issues.
They include his botched handling of an ultimately abandoned effort to protect a Tory MP who quit parliament after being accused of making 100,000 UK pounds a year from lobbying including allegedly trying to influence COVID-19 vaccination contracts; ongoing questions about the funding of renovations to the PM’s Downing Street flat; claims of peerages in the House of Lords being sold to party donors; and allegations by an ex-girlfriend of influence peddling by Mr Johnson on behalf of her IT business when he was Mayor of London.
Mr Johnson, who is facing a number of key by-elections that will test his and his government’s popularity, called reporters to 10 Downing Street where his aides promised them a full and detailed response to each damaging claim.
The packed news conference began with the PM sliding into the room on a flying fox wire (main picture) and stopping awkwardly after hitting and smashing a 18th century porcelain vase on a side table.
“What ho chaps! And chapettes, of course,” the Prime Minister said as he picked himself off the floor and removed his flying fox harness.
“Can’t forget the ladies can we, chaps?” he said while winking theatrically in the direction of the media pack.
As reporters began peppering him with questions Mr Johnson held up a hand to silence them and nodded to an aide who dimmed the room lights, save only for a spotlight on one wall.
The PM then began to manipulate both of his hands to form shadows on the wall in the shape of British birds while naming each birds and whistling impressions of their calls.
When he was finished he ordered the lights to be turn up after which he ignored reporters’ questions while performing what he announced to be an Irish jig.
Mr Johnson then stood behind the lectern only to ignore questions while performing several borderline smutty limericks.
As a Downing Street staffer called an end to the news conference by announcing “One more question” even though none had yet been answered, Mr Johnson “moonwalked” backwards out of the room, ignoring further attempts to ask him questions.
As an aide who followed the PM out of the room told reporters that, as usual, Downing Street would be issuing a full transcript of the news conference as soon as possible.