Boris Johnson was given an angry lecture by a minister in the voting lobbies about his comments that money had been ‘spaffed up a wall’ for investigating child sex abuse, I understand.
The former Foreign Secretary upset survivors of the crime by using the term during radio interview last week. He told LBC that ‘you, know £60 million I saw was being spaffed up a wall on some investigation into historic child abuse’.
Boris Johnson says spending police budgets investigating historic child abuse is "spaffing money up the wall". pic.twitter.com/6Xh9FOy3w2
— LBC (@LBC) March 13, 2019
On Thursday night, as MPs were voting on the latest round of Brexit amendments, he was confronted in the lobby by Victims’ Minister Victoria Atkins who, according to several MPs present, ‘read him the riot act’. She did so in front of Johnson’s colleagues in a move clearly designed to make him as uncomfortable as possible. MPs watching the telling-off said Atkins told Johnson that there was no way his use of language was acceptable. One said ‘he looked caught out’, and another described his face as being ‘like that of a guilty husband – something he’s had some practice on, I suppose’.
Atkins could have contacted Johnson privately to explain why the use of the word ‘spaffed’ in connection with child sexual abuse was deeply insensitive and unkind, as well as giving the wrong message about the Conservative Party’s attitude to the crime, but her use of the busiest time of the parliamentary day will not only have shown up her colleague, but also shown that he is no longer as popular as he once was with other MPs (though his standing has always been lower in the Commons than it has been among the wider Tory membership). One MP said the talk of the tearoom ‘is that this has been the final nail in the coffin of any ambition he still has to be leader’.