Boris Johnson has sent his Republic Day greetings to India even as he waited for the report into “Partygate” by senior civil servant Sue Gray that may determine the future of his premiership.
There has been an ominous quote from a senior “source” which predicted: “Put it this way, if Boris Johnson is still Prime Minister by the end of the week, I’d be very surprised.” With a message that showed the Union flag entwined with the Indian tricolour, Boris said: “The UK and India are tied by bonds that span over decades, through generations and across some of the greatest challenges we have faced.
“I want to send my best wishes from the UK to the people of India, and to all British Indians, on India’s Republic Day.” In a noisy session of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, and several other opposition MPs repeatedly urged Boris to resign. He was in surprisingly bullish mood as he declared 
he wouldn’t — and was cheered by many of his backbenchers.
For a while the debate focused on alliteration. Rejecting Starmer’s call he should step down because even Scotland Yard was now investigating “Partygate”, Boris, an Eton educated man who is much better with words, quipped: “The problem with the Labour Party today is that he’s a lawyer, not a leader. We’ve taken the tough decisions, we’ve got the big calls right, and we’re — and in particular I — are getting on the job.” In the Commons, MPs are not allowed to call each other “liars”.
Thus, the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, stamped on Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, and made him withdraw his remark: “I would prefer to be led by a lawyer than a liar.”
Incidentally, there is already a campaign to smear the chancellor Rishi Sunak, a possible contender for the top job. It has been claimed he attended a birthday party for Boris when some of his officials surprised the Prime Minister with a cake. 
On Wednesday, he was seated on the front bench but not, as he usually does, immediately on his Boris’s left. The foreign secretary Liz Truss, who is backing Boris “100 per cent”, and the home secretary Priti Patel, who has kept quiet on the leadership issue, had wedged themselves between the Prime Minister and the chancellor.
These things might mean nothing — or everything.
The Daily Telegraph commented: “The Chancellor was noticeably out of shot in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon, meaning he couldn’t be seen on TV screens, as picked up on by our Associate Editor Christopher Hope.”
The paper said: “To Mr Johnson’s right was Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, Dominic Raab (justice secretary and deputy prime minister) and then Jacob Rees-Mogg (leader of the Commons). But Mr Sunak used his first tweet after the latest showdown in the Commons to promote a very different story.”
After Bentley had announced plans to make electric cars, Sunak tweeted a rosy picture of the economy under his watch: “Tomorrow is bright. We are proud to announce that our first-ever Battery-Powered Electric Vehicle will be developed and built in the UK following the commitment to invest £2.5 billion in sustainability over the next ten years.”
In Test match parlance, Boris is dodging short-pitched bumpers, while “dishy Rishi” is taking the shine off the new ball in possible  anticipation of a long innings.
 
 

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