‘Parties? “Parties?”

The Downing Street debacle has had one result: it left Prime Minister a little short of friends.

Turns out even his Cabinet aren’t all that keen on going out to bat on his behalf. It would be better to spend a few days in Brisbane with those terrifying Aussie quick-bowers, who don’t have a box. So Labour’s Urgent Question on the matter yesterday presented the Tory whips’ office with a problem. How do you send it out?

You can just imagine chief whip Mark Spencer’s discussion with his minions: ‘Just send that clown Gavin Williamson.’ ‘No, we sacked him.’ ‘What about Saj Javid?’ ‘Shampooing his hair, apparently.’ How they could have done with that trusty human flak jacket Matt Hancock.

It was then that Michael Ellis’s idea to be exterminated came about. ‘Good man Ellis,’ they will have concurred. ‘Sturdy. Dependable.’ QC Ellis answers to the modest title of Paymaster General, yet possesses the lofty pretensions of a powder-wigged courtier. Ellis was more than happy to have the chance to throw his enormous frame in front of the Prime Minster. This was a sign of honour (cue French trumpets! It was a sign of honour. ‘Michael Ellis!’ yelled Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle just after 10.30am.

One of the upshots of the Downing Street party debacle is that it has left the Prime Minister somewhat short on friends

One result of the Downing Street Party party disaster is that the Prime Minister has been left with few friends

Ellis informed the House that the Cabinet Secretary would be investigating alleged ‘gatherings’ last November and December at both Downing Street and the Department for Education. Wonderful that description ‘gathering’. Far less gauche than ‘party’. Imagine Ellis smiling with contentment when he created that one.

Ellis was seated next to a group of MPs who broke into laughter. ‘Gathering?’ they chorused. ‘Gathering? Gathering?’ The SNP’s Martin Docherty-Hughes (W Dunbartonshire) said it was a party, plain and simple.

‘If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and it’s at a Christmas party, it’s usually a duck!’ he chirped.

Docherty Hughes, a very intelligent little man. He would be an annoying planning officer, who loves to inform people about roof extensions that are not built at the correct slope. Even worse, it appeared that he was wearing white socks.

Many opposition MPs believed that the PM is a cad. Many called for him to step down. Ellis stiffened his spine, and he thumbed his lapels. ‘I have known the Prime Minister many years,’ he intoned, voice as rich and creamy as thick butter soup. ‘He is a man of honesty and integrity…’ Yes, well. Sir Desmond Swayne (Con., New Forest W) made an enlightening suggestion. He ventured that when these No 10 ‘gatherings’ occurred, the PM could have been in his flat blissfully unaware they were taking place.

Ellis agreed and nodded. ‘It is certainly true as a matter of geography that No 10 Downing Street is a very large property with a multitude of offices and with many, many people working inside it,’ he replied. The High Court could consider this defense to be the ultimate example of grasping at straws.

So it was that some bright spark hit upon the idea of dispatching Michael Ellis. ‘Good man Ellis,’ they will have concurred. ‘Sturdy. Dependable’

The idea of Michael Ellis being dispatched was conceived by a bright light. ‘Good man Ellis,’ they will have concurred. ‘Sturdy. Dependable’

Labour’s benches heckled and wailed. Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough), the Roisterer in Chief, behaved like Bernard Manning at a Bernard Manning Show. When someone mentioned that the PM’s wife Carrie had given birth, they grumbled ungraciously. No one uttered any approbation. Classy. Boris received a lot more insults than usual. That eternal rain cloud Carol Monaghan (SNP, Glasgow NW) suggested the PM ‘go back to watching Peppa Pig and let the grown-ups run the country’. Her attention-prone colleague Anum Qaisar (Airdrie) described the PM as ‘sneaky, manipulative and corrupt’.

Ellis stood straight again and looked regally at his spectacles.

‘I know the Prime Minister,’ he replied. ‘He is a friend of mine and I know him to be a man of honour and integrity…’ Good man, Ellis. Sturdy. Dependable. This knighthood, I’m sure, is yours.