“It’s the elitist thing – it’s Barnard Castle, it’s Priti Patel.”
It was supposed to be the week that Boris Johnson reset his premiership.
Dominic Cummings was gone from Boris, and was supposed to take with him the multiple, concurrent and arguably unnecessary wars with everyone from the media to civil servants to Tory backbenchers.
The stalled relaunch was perhaps best exemplified by the PM’s new press secretary, Allegra Stratton, who was supposed to be at the vanguard of the Downing Street revolution, being forced to brief that Johnson “will not tolerate bullying”, despite having done just that.
And it was Stratton who also had to bat away questions about whether Johnson’s big reset had got off to a stuttering start, stressing that “the prime minister would like us all to look at this case alone”.
“I don’t think it’s helpful to try and draw dots or comparisons with anyone else,” Stratton added.
But it is difficult to escape those comparisons when Patel, like Cummings with his Barnard Castle eye test, has got away with breaking the rules.
The old Labour attack – one rule for us and another for them – is well and truly back, but it’s not just confined to the opposition.
One Tory insider believes that like the Cummings case, the story is not going to go away.
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