The House of Commons today held a ‘tribute debate’ in honour of the 59th birthday of the man the Tory party privately calls, the Lyin’ King.
The motion proposed that Johnson, “more than anyone, embodies the Noble Art of Deception”.
As the morning wore on, there was no let up in the accolades flowing in – ‘the liar’s liar’, ‘the Great Dissembler’ and ‘the Prince of Porky Pies’ – as MPs also prepared to vote on the Partygate Report.
But first, they considered what actually constitutes a lie; whether it counts if you cross your fingers while you’re telling it; and whether it’s really a lie, if you mean it while you’re saying it. (The latter is also known as the Blair Rule.)
Admirers pointed to the fact that Johnson wasn’t fired from his first public role just for ‘ordinary, common–or–garden lying’. He was fired for ‘lying about lying’. (This is a reference to when he was fired from his first job with The Times for making up a quote and then lying to the editor about having made it up.) “With a start like that,” Liz Trust said, “it just makes you well up, doesn’t it?”
Another stand-out lie from the early days was his 2004 blatant face-to-face lie to party leader Michael Howard, denying an extramarital affair with a journalist. When it was immediately confirmed, he refused to resign. When sacked, he complained “much of what I have heard is very peculiar”.
The signs of his later greatness were already there in these early indicators of untrustworthiness, they agreed, before the glory days of his breath-taking whoppers about having the power to suspend parliament or that leaving the EU would mean a £350m a week windfall for the NHS.
Suella Braverman then remarked that under a longstanding convention known as The Westminster Compact, lies that absolutely everyone knows are lies – like ‘I drove to Barnard Castle to test my eyesight’ – are technically not lies at all.
Jacob Rees-Mogg ventured that who was being lied to was far more important than what was being lied about or who was doing the lying. “As a party,” he said afterwards, “we’re entirely happy with lying, it’s pretty much the job description”.
Michael Gove drew cries of ‘hear, hear!’ when he wondered, “Is it a lie if you lie but your little true-blue Tory heart, isn’t really in it?” This is thought to be a reference to his claim that the government was going to go after the people who built the Grenfell Flats complex where 72 people died in a fire.
The speaker then read out an announcement saying Johnson was buying drinks for anyone who cared to join him, down at his local, The Last Chance Saloon.