Party pooper George Freeman pours cold water on Boris Johnson's Christmas

Spare a thought for George Freeman. For reasons best known to himself, the decent if decidedly forgettable Tory MP had been desperate to return to Boris Johnson’s ministerial team after being sacked from a minor position in the transport department in February last year. He had even been overheard talking nonsense about the prime minister’s integrity and competence that everyone knew he didn’t believe for a second.

And his desperation paid off in September, when Johnson made him parliamentary undersecretary of state for science, research and innovation. Some might have thought an appointment to one of the most junior roles in the business department as, at best, a damning with faint praise and at worst a snub for an MP whose own assessment of his capabilities was out of line with that of his boss. But beggars can’t be choosers, so Freeman happily accepted what was on offer and since then has applied himself to his job unnoticed by everyone. Including himself.

Then on Thursday night, George got the phone call he had been dreading. After weeks of bad headlines, culminating in frequent parties inside No 10 during lockdown, absolutely everyone in government – even the lowest of the low – had made themselves unavailable for the following morning’s media round. Headaches, holidays, Christmas parties, vacuuming the stables: you name it, the excuses came tumbling out.

So eventually the No 10 communications team decided Freeman was their man. When the chips were down, George was a safe pair of hands. As in, the only pair of hands. The only person in government with so little self-worth he was unable to turn down a hospital pass. Though even he hesitated. And with good reason, because by the time he had finished with the media, he was a nervous wreck.

Freeman began by hoping that denial was the best line of defence. Asked by Justin Webb on Radio 4’s Today programme if No 10 had been a hotbed of lockdown ravers and refuseniks the previous year, he gave a dead-bat reply that he couldn’t possibly know as he hadn’t been there. Which was fair enough. Only George then panicked, thinking he might have landed Boris in trouble by being so noncommittal, so he immediately followed up by saying he had spoken to people who had been at the party and they had told him all the guidelines had been met.

That’s weird, said Webb. Because parties were specifically banned. So if the guidelines had been met, the people he had spoken to about the party couldn’t actually have been there. Because parties with large groups of people getting pissed, playing music and having fun up close and personal were banned. We were now in the realms of Schrödinger’s Night Out. One that had both taken place and not taken place, and which people had both been present at and absent from simultaneously.

Having established that No 10 had been quite happy to have any number of parties while the rest of the country either diligently obeyed lockdown rules or fought for their lives in intensive care units, the interview moved on to parties this Christmas. Where did Freeman stand on this? Was he “Live and let die, the more, the merrier”? Did he agree with Thérèse Coffey, the works and pensions secretary, that you should only snog people you knew under the mistletoe? Because as every fool knows, you can only get infected with Covid by strangers.

Freeman froze. He didn’t want to get drawn on snogging; given Boris’s past record on physical contact at parties – after all, hadn’t Amber Rudd once described him as not the bloke you would want to drive you home? – the prime minister should probably decide that for himself. So he made the schoolboy error of giving an honest and sensible answer. With so much still unknown about the Omicron variant, it was best to steer clear of big parties and crowded rooms, while smaller bashes were probably OK to go ahead.

Related: Covid: No 10 plans to host Christmas parties despite ministers’ warnings

WRONG ANSWER! The klaxons went off in Downing Street and Freeman’s phone began to vibrate. Sod the virus. The prime minister was planning a bumper Christmas and was planning on holding as many parties as possible. It would be such a relief to be able to have these ones out in the open rather than keeping them secret like last year. Not that there had been anything to keep secret last year, as there hadn’t been any parties. Just loads of people pretending to have a party.

So George had blown it again. By now he was in such a state, he even screwed up on Sky by saying 20-year-olds should contact their GPs for booster jabs. Within minutes of Freeman completing his media duties, he had been comprehensively slapped down by No 10. Now was the time for everyone to party, party, party, and to hell with the consequences. Everyone except Freeman, that is. He could merely reflect on his all too brief return to a ministerial role and wonder how long it would be before he returned to the back benches. There are some Tories who are just too good for government. This government, at any rate.

A Farewell to Calm by John Crace is published by Guardian Faber, price £9.99. To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Zero tolerance towards manipulation, says Twitter after Rahul Gandhi shoots letter

In response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal to highlight the company’s “unwitting complicity in curbing free and fair speech”, the microblogging website said that ... Read more »

Father of two, 31, has open-heart surgery to fit pump which will only keep him alive another five years after he was REFUSED a transplant because he's not vaccinated against COVID

DJ Ferguson, a 31-year-old father of two, has been in hospital since late November with a hereditary heart conditionThe condition means that causes his lungs and heart fill with blood and fluid, and he is in need of a heart transplantHis doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have said that he is ineligible for the transplant because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19Doctors routinely reject patients for the coveted life-saving transplants if they have conditions such as addictions that will prevent their recoveryOn Wednesday night Ferguson's mother, father and girlfriend told Tucker Carlson that they were 'devastated' that he has been rejectedOn Tuesday he had open heart surgery to insert a mechanical heart pump, which will prolong his life by five years but is not a long-term substitute Read more »

Ex-VP Ansari Joins Jamaat-e-Islami Backed Event in US, Says 'Concerned' Over Human Rights Situation In India

© Provided by News18 Ex-VP Ansari Joins Jamaat-e-Islami Backed Event in US, Says ‘Concerned’ Over Human Rights Situation In India Former vice-president Hamid Ansari on Wednesday participated in an event, ... Read more »

UP Elections: Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan Files Nomination From Jail, Son Azam to Contest from Suar

© Provided by News18 UP Elections: Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan Files Nomination From Jail, Son Azam to Contest from Suar Mohammad Azam Khan, the Samajwadi Party MP from Rampur, ... Read more »

Ground Report: Big Debate in Kalyan Singh's Turf—Why Didn't Akhilesh Come to Pay Last Respects?

Why did Akhilesh Yadav not turn up to pay his last respects to the late Kalyan Singh after he passed away in 2021? In the backyard of Babuji—as the deceased ... Read more »

Tired of the Sun Playing Peek-a-Boo This Jan? Here's Why Delhi's Bone-Chilling Winter Refuses to End

© Provided by News18 Tired of the Sun Playing Peek-a-Boo This Jan? Here’s Why Delhi’s Bone-Chilling Winter Refuses to End Every year, Delhi brings out its woolens and quilts in ... Read more »

Man shot dead in broad daylight in Noida's Dadri area; probe launched

In a shocking murder case, a man who was a resident of Palla village in Greater Noida was shot dead in broad daylight by some unidentified miscreants on Wednesday. The ... Read more »

Polis tahan 6 lelaki, rampas ganja lebih RM600,000

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Ketua Polis Perlis, Surina Saad, berkata pihaknya percaya dadah dirampas itu diperoleh dari Thailand di mana sindiket menjadikan Perlis sebagai transit sebelum diedarkan ke ... Read more »

Harrowing final moments before woman, 53, was viciously stabbed 14 times by her partner on New Year's Eve - as it's revealed he drank beers, stole her bank cards and fled in her BMW afterwards

Jury has took just over an hour to convict a man of girlfriend's 'ferocious' murderPetero Baleinapuka, 58, denied stabbing his recent partner Angela O'Donnell, 53Attack left Ms O'Donnell with 14 stab wounds in Woonona on December 31, 2019 Judge in discussing his sentencing said Baleinapuka is a 'very dangerous man' Read more »

SA records 4,514 new COVID cases, 94 fatalities

© AFP. FILE: A nurse from Lancet Nectare hospital performs a COVID-19 coronavirus test in Richmond, Johannesburg, on 18 December 2020. JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s daily COVID-19 positivity rate is ... Read more »

Robredo seeks PH return to ICC if elected president

VICE President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo will propose the country’s return to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if she is elected president. In an interview with Boy Abunda that premiered ... Read more »

First Nations Educators Conference: Feb 2 & 3 has an amazing list of Guest Speakers. Deadline Extended.

(ANNews) – Registration is open for this year’s virtual First Nations Educators’ Conference, which will be held Feb. 2 and 3, and is a joint production from Bigstone Education Authority ... Read more »

IMF Urges El Salvador to Drop Bitcoin as Currency, Citing Financial Stability Risks

BeInCrypto – The International Monetary Fund is urging El Salvador to stop using Bitcoin as legal tender citing financial stability risks. This story was seen first on BeInCrypto Join our ... Read more »

TV18 Broadcast hits upper circuit in a weak market; here's why

New Delhi: Shares of TV18 Broadcast hit the upper circuit on Thursday following media reports that Uday Shankar and James Murdoch eye to pick up a significant stake in Viacom18. ... Read more »

UIF head Maruping to return to work after more than a year on suspension

© @UIFBenefits/Twitter FILE: Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) commissioner Teboho Maruping. JOHANNESBURG – Eyewitness News can reveal that Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Commissioner Teboho Maruping will be returning to work after ... Read more »

Top baker spills his secret recipe for the PERFECT chocolate mudcake: 'This is the best looking dessert I've seen'

Chef shares how to make the most indulgent home-made chocolate mud cakeMorgan Hipworth creates the dessert using pantry staples and a simple method Morgan's recipe has received over one million views and hundreds of comments 'This is by far the best looking mud cakes I've seen, well done,' a foodie wrote Read more »

Video: Netflix releases trailer for bizarre Korean rom-com Love and Leashes about a submissive office worker who starts an S&M relationship with his glamorous boss: 'Do you want me to step on you?'

Read more »

Gov. Kathy Hochul warns embattled Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg she's prepared to use her powers to force him to reverse his soft-on-crime policies as subway attacks and violent crime soars in NYC

Hochul - who is running for a full term after replacing sex pest ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2021 - has said she'll be meeting Bragg for the first time Friday 'I know full well the powers that the governor has — I'll be having a conversation very shortly to convey,' she said. Hochul has stopped short of demanding Bragg's removal from office, but added that she will 'be monitoring the situation very closely'The pair is set to meet at Governor Hochul's Manhattan offices, which are located in Midtown  Read more »

Raveena Tandon opens up on adopting 'quietly' as she wishes her daughter Chaya on her wedding anniversary

© Provided by Pinkvilla Raveena Tandon is a doting mum to four children – two adopted and two biological. For the unversed, the actress adopted daughters Pooja and Chaya when ... Read more »

Ankita Lokhande opens up on life after marriage with Vicky Jain; reveals she's busier on the professional front - EXCLUSIVE

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Ankita Lokhande has completed a month of marriage. The Pavitra Rishta actress is waiting for the release of Pavitra Rishta 2.0 where she comes back as ... Read more »

Salah bawa Mesir ke suku akhir Piala Negara-Negara Afrika

© Provided by Sinar Harian MOHAMED Salah menjadi wira Mesir apabila menyempurnakan penalti kemenangan untuk membantu The Pharaohs melangkah ke pusingan suku akhir Piala Negara-Negara Afrika selepas menewaskan Ivory Coast ... Read more »

Djokovic punca kebangkitan Medvedev

© Provided by Sinar Harian PEMAIN tenis nombor dua dunia, Daniil Medvedev mendedahkan punca dia melengkapkan kebangkitan hebat menentang Felix Auger-Aliassime dalam saingan Terbuka Australia kerana terinspirasi dengan semangat yang ... Read more »

Newcastle mampu kekal bersaing di EPL

© Provided by Sinar Harian PENGKRITIK bola sepak England, Rio Ferdinand yakin bahawa Newcastle United akan terus kekal bersaing di Liga Perdana Inggeris (EPL) musim depan selepas berjaya merekrut beberapa ... Read more »

Mouni Roy-Suraj Nambiar Wedding: Bride to be gets beau's initial written on hand during mehendi ceremony

Mouni Roy has all the reasons on cloud nine today. After all, she is tying the knot with Suraj Nambiar in a grand wedding in Goa after dating each other ... Read more »

Anushka Sharma warns new parents Priyanka Chopra, Nick Jonas about sleepless nights

Anushka Sharma shared an advice for Priyanka and Nick. Anushka Sharma has a great piece of advice for Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. The couple recently announced that they have ... Read more »

Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai: AbhiRa fans crush over Harshad Chopda aka Abhimanyu's 'majnu' avatar after Akshara's love confession – view tweets

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, episode 487, 27 January 2022: Harshad Chopda, Pranali Rathod and Karishma Sawant starrer TV show has seen an interesting lately. Abhi ... Read more »

Raiders' Nate Hobbs pleads guilty of Vegas traffic charge, not DUI

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced traffic charge stemming from his arrest early this month on suspicion of driving under the ... Read more »

GM sold 26 electric vehicles last quarter but projects it will overtake Tesla by 2025. Elon Musk said GM has 'room for improvement.'

© Provided by Business Insider Tesla CEO Elon Musk says GM appears “to have some room for improvement.” Picture Alliance/Getty Images GM is investing heavily into EVs and projects it ... Read more »

Thomas Tuchel must heed Lionel Messi transfer message as Chelsea eye £36m Eden Hazard heir

Thomas Tuchel is fast approaching a T-junction as Chelsea‘s January transfer window comes to a close and Lionel Messi’s voice is bellowing through Blues boss’ satnav telling him which way ... Read more »

Edinburgh Council's own safety audit warned Spaces for People barriers were not visible enough. Yet SNP continue to sneer at those who complain – John McLellan

© Edinburgh Council was warned about the need to improve visibility of black lane dividers used in the… For Conservative MSP Miles Briggs and Councillor Jason Rust to highlight the ... Read more »

Maruti Suzuki share price hits new 52-week high post Q3 results, may rally 20% more; buy, sell or hold?

© Provided by The Financial Express Maruti Suzuki stock has rallied 20% in the last one month Maruti Suzuki India share price gained over 1.5 per cent to hit a ... Read more »

Adani Wilmar IPO subscribed 12 percent on first day, retail portion booked 26 percent

© Swati Verma Adani Wilmar IPO subscribed 12 percent on first day, retail portion booked 26 percent The initial public offering (IPO) of Adani Wilmar, a joint venture between Adani ... Read more »

Union Budget 2022: Incentivise investments in healthcare sector, says survey

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: A pre-budget expectations survey on Wednesday showed increasing demand for incentivising investments in healthcare sector. As per the Grant Thornton Bharat survey, nearly ... Read more »

Dolly Everett's mum says kids should be forced to get a LICENCE to use social media after her daughter committed suicide following relentless online bullying

The mother of 14-year-old cyber-bullying victim Dolly Everett appears at inquiry She suggested children be licensed in order to use social media platformsKate Everett and her husband started Dolly's Dream after their daughter's deathThe inquiry into online safety is hearing from a range of participants The parliamentary committee is due to table its report by February 15 this year Read more »

Apple Pays Cybersecurity Student $100,500 Bounty For Finding Mac Webcam Bug

Apple has awarded a cybersecurity student $100,500 (roughly Rs 75,54,000) in bounty rewards for finding a vulnerability in the webcams on Mac computers. The student, Ryan Pickren, spoke about the ... Read more »

‘Tallano gold bar' exists…in soap form

© Provided by Interaksyon The fabled Tallano gold bar exists, that is, in the form of a whitening soap. A Reddit user posted a photo of a soap in a ... Read more »

Will virus be 'over'? Most Americans think not: AP-NORC poll

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – Travelers pass a sign near a COVID-19 testing site in Terminal E at Logan Airport, on Dec. 21, 2021, in Boston. A new ... Read more »

At least 3 judges eyed as Biden mulls Supreme Court pick

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing ... Read more »

Holocaust Memorial Day: Families discover fate of long lost Dutch children who perished at Sobibor

Relatives of four Dutch children killed by the Nazis have described their sadness after being told their identity tags were found in the ruins of a death camp. © Dr. ... Read more »

Elderly pedestrian dies after being hit by van

Police are appealing for information (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive) An 81-year-old woman has died after she was hit by a van. The incident happened on the A803 Main Street in ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic