Last week, reports emerged that the prime minister’s wife organised a party in the cabinet room for Johnson’s 56th birthday on 19 June 2020. Yet at this time the public were abiding to strict rules, namely the prohibition of indoor gatherings and the hospitality sector having to endure further closures; outdoor gatherings were allowed but even these were capped at a max of six people.
Johnson’s birthday bash however reportedly had up to 30 members of staff present at the celebration, with singing and what has proved to perhaps be the most contentious element of the entire affair – cake. The reason for this viterol is comments which were made in defence of the prime minister by Tory MP, Conor Burns.
Burns to Channel 4 insisted that the gathering had not in fact been “a premeditated, organised party”. Rather he had simply been working when staff members burst in and commenced birthday celebrations. Burns details how staff burst in and “... they [the staff] sang happy birthday, he was there for 10 minutes - I don’t think most people at home would characterise that as a party”. What stoked social media fires, is Burns’ comment that the prime minister was in a sense the victim as he was “ambushed with a cake”.
Taking The Cake…
Understandably, the public’s reaction toward this entire affair has been full of vitriol. At a time where everyone else had to cancel plans and miss out on the opportunity to see loved ones, Burns’ comments offer little respite from the fact that they were not even able to enjoy the little things; singing and cake included.
Indeed, a Tweet by Johnson re-emerged from a couple of years ago on the subject of birthday parties. The PM congratulated a seven-year old girl for cancelling a birthday party amidst lockdown regulations.
“Josephine sets a great example to us all by postponing her birthday party until we have sent coronavirus packing” - @BorisJohnson
Twitter was incensed, and the affair provoked reactions from everybody from Nigella Lawson to Keir Starmer. Starmer declared the incident presented us with “yet more evidence that we have got a prime minister who believes that the rules he made don’t apply to him”.
“Ambushed by Cake: it just has to be the title of my next book! #AmbushedByCake" - @Nigella_Lawson
‘‘… it was at that moment I was ambushed with a birthday cake and was unable to escape and forced to celebrate against my will…" –@TobyonTV
"Am hearing that getting ambushed by a cake defence is Flan B." – @secrettory12
The scandal is unfortunately the latest in a line of egregious offences committed by the prime minister. As the nation eagerly waits with bated breath for the report into the prime minister’s lockdown parties by Sue Gray, Johnson may very well get his just desserts soon.