Like a bloated conservative president, Simon Case receives a defeat from the Constitutional Committee

Did you know that story about the Johnsons wanting to put a treehouse in No 10? I don’t think it was for the kids. It was for Boris. You can picture him there, out of his troubles, with a big pile of Beanos and a sign that says “No Girls Allowed”…

Partigate is not going anywhere; Representatives are about to stand trial. On Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case faced the Constitutional Committee (not an easy task when you’re working with the school’s naughty boy). Case, looking like a grown Conservative chief, initially walked the clever line between disclosure and secrecy, but he fell for John McDonnell, a man whose interrogation style couldn’t be more intimidating if he wore a balaclava.

What do you think of the claim that Boris tried to get a job for his then-girlfriend, McDonnell asked? “I don’t know,” Kiss replied. Did you investigate? “number.” why not? “The investigation… can only be authorized by the Prime Minister.”

“Is he not excited?” asked Chief William Wragh, the child’s face shook.

McDonnell did not laugh. He hasn’t laughed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Back to work: Don’t you have any responsibility to stick to standards? In this case, he threw hesitantly: “I am fully aware of my responsibilities,” “and I take them very seriously … I have done it all my career and I still do it!”

The general meaning of his remarks was that the government does not have a formal system of compliance: we depend on custom. If ministers want to be ethical, that’s great, and the civil servants are there to advise them. If they don’t, then everything will go a little further to the Lord of the Flies. A civil servant could always protest and resign, but given the pension one would give up, it would clearly not be in the national interest – so the government is running a mess and kind of watching Whitehall. Case has admitted that he now spends as much as 30 percent of his time thinking about matters of ethics, which, given what he told us, should be a waste of taxpayer money. Like trying to teach the highway code to a cat.

Some habits die hard

Back at McDonnell, he wasn’t happy. The case was “angry”, and “angry” is McDonnell’s thing. So on his second run with a blowtorch, he asked, if someone in Number 10 was lying to the press and they were disciplined about it, would we be told? “No,” Case answered, “because we don’t comment on internal management, and besides, labor unions might have something to say about it.”

“I’ve been a unionist my whole working life!” Class war raging in his veins, said McDonnell, “So don’t tell me what a trade union is!” Case closed his eyes and said, “I don’t want to fall with you.”

In the old days, when the teacher hit him, the pupil would shake his hand afterwards–and when the panel session was over and the cameras stopped, Case approached McDonnell, apologized for what he said and shook his hand. It is pleasing to see that some habits die hard.

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