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ANDREW PIERCE: Boris Johnson is every inch a hero to David Cameron's rich pal

After refusing to sack Dominic Cummings for allegedly breaking lockdown rules, Boris Johnson appears to have lost the support of a number of disgruntled Tory MPs.

But at least he can find solace in having forged a new alliance with a powerful ally. For I can reveal that he has secured the surprising backing of billionaire property mogul Tony Gallagher.

Tory donor Gallagher's patronage certainly comes with its perks. 

In 2016, when he was a keen supporter of David Cameron, he hosted the former Prime Minister's 50th birthday party at his home, one of the grandest private properties in Britain: 17th-century Sarsden House, in Oxfordshire, which is set in 459 acres of land.

Boris Johnson has forged a new alliance with a powerful ally - he has secured the surprising backing of billionaire property mogul Tony Gallagher

While Boris is yet to receive such a generous offer, last month Gallagher did present him with an £800 silver ruler engraved with the name of every British Prime Minister, including Mr Johnson's. 

News of such a lavish gift will no doubt leave Westminster watchers scratching their heads — not least because Gallagher was a staunch Remainer in the EU referendum and gave thousands to the cause.

Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued successfully for the Virtual Parliament to end and MPs to return to Westminster this week, seems to have enjoyed his time at home. 'I'm reading a book on the Black Death,' he recently said. 

What better way to lift one's spirits in these dark times?

But Gallagher tells me: 'I think Boris is tremendous and is doing a good job in incredibly difficult circumstances.'

Asked which engraved name on the ruler was his favourite PM, Gallagher, whose similar gifts to David Cameron and Theresa May were put on display in the Cabinet Office, says: 'Ah, good try, but you're not getting me on that. 

They all have their strengths but I am a huge admirer of Boris.'

Is that a Covid clanger, Nick? 

When BBC presenter Nick Robinson interviewed Tory MP John Penrose last week about Covid-19 in his local hospital in Weston-super-Mare, Robinson asked if the new Government test-and-trace scheme 'run by a woman called Dido Harding' would help.

Penrose replied: 'As a matter of disclosure, Dido Harding is my wife.'

As a matter of disclosure, do you think Robinson blushed. 

Dominic Cummings has come under fire for driving 260 miles to Durham from London. The No.10 special adviser is pictured leaving his north London home on May 29

In the delay before Dominic Cummings's press conference last week, Tim Burgess, of rock band The Charlatans, tweeted: 'If you were this late for a JobCentre interview, you'd lose your benefits.'

Five minutes later, Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy told her followers on social media: 'If Dominic Cummings turned up this late to the JobCentre he'd be sanctioned.' Her post garnered 65,000 'likes'.

Shall we be charitable and call that a cover version? 

No porkies: Parliament's £3m meat bill

The pandemic may have left Parliament deserted but MPs will be relieved to learn that its opulent charms will still be there when calm is restored.

Indeed, it has just issued a tender for its supply of meat, poultry and game over the next four years, to the tune of £3 million — which is lip-smackingly good news for its canteen aficionados. But aren't there enough porkies doing the rounds in Westminster?  

Joke of the week: This gag is doing the rounds among politicos: 'Dominic Cummings is a golfing term. It's a long drive that goes out of bounds but carries no penalty.'

Tory MP Douglas Ross, who resigned as a junior Scottish Office minister following Dominic Cummings's trip to Barnard Castle, is a qualified professional football referee. 

Cue the inevitable riposte from Tory MPs: 'He's given himself a red card.'

New Tory MP Lee Anderson may only have been in the job for a matter of months, but that hasn't stopped him sticking the boot in.

'Seeing as Boris has said up to six people can meet outdoors, there is now a good chance the Lib Dem Conference can go ahead,' the MP for Ashfield remarked. Ouch! 

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