United Kingdom

HENRY DEEDES: The PM, his honey blonde and a rather crimson face 

Whoa! Talk about tossing a flaming hot scotch bonnet in the stew pot…

Boris Johnson had reached the end of his Downing Street press briefing: A drab, lifeless affair through which he'd negotiated his way unscathed. Until the last hurdle that is.

The final question fell to a man from online news site Huffington Post, who, out of nowhere, asked whether the PM had acted with 'honesty and integrity' in his dealings with Jennifer Arcuri, the honey blonde 'tech entrepreneur' who claims to have enjoyed relations with Boris in his marital home. Ping!

Boris's face grew tinged with crimson. For a moment, I expected a Prime Ministerial explosion. Splutters, guffaws, possibly a few Latin expletives. Instead, a smirk, a simper and a single word answer: 'Yes.'

With that, off he went, a forced smile stretched achingly across his face. When he reached the Downing Street flat, Dilyn the dog might have done well to keep out of his master's way for the evening.

Boris Johnson had reached the end of his Downing Street press briefing: A drab, lifeless affair through which he'd negotiated his way unscathed. Until the last hurdle that is. The final question fell to a man from online news site Huffington Post, who, out of nowhere, asked whether the PM had acted with 'honesty and integrity' in his dealings with Jennifer Arcuri

The press conference had gone relatively well until that point. The vaccine, we were told, was going great guns – 33million jabbed and counting. Testing was up, outdoor pubs open and the country was experiencing its 'first glimmerings' of normality.

Listening to this wave of good news, it felt as though we were cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, top down, sunglasses on, Rocky soundtrack pumping from the stereo.

Oh, and Chris Whitty, that long, pale streak of death to whom misery clings like fungus to a dying tree? Nowhere to be seen.

Except there came the customary 'but'. Oh, Boris! Just as freedom's salty tang was tickling our nostrils too.

'We cannot delude ourselves that Covid has gone away', he said. Scientists were 'firmly of the view' another wave would hit sometime this year.

The main purpose of the briefing was to let us know we would be prepared for it. The Government was putting together a new antiviral taskforce. The hope is that by autumn we may be able to cure Covid by popping a simple pill at home.

The PM aspires to repeat the success he enjoyed with Dexamethasone, the anti-inflammatory drug used to treat Covid, which Boris still pronounces with all the confidence of a teenager taking their GCSE French oral.

Riding sidecar for the day in the absence of Whitty and Vallance was NHS England medical director, Dr Nikki Kanani. We hadn't seen her for a couple of months. Chatty character. Possibly the sort of GP who enjoys a good chinwag when she's signing her patients' prescriptions.

Boris almost ruined the doc's moment in the sun by cutting over to questions just as she was preparing her slideshow.

Jennifer Arcuri claims to have enjoyed relations with Boris in his marital home [File photo]

Dr K just stood there smiling at the PM knowingly as if to say: 'What you think you're playing at?' Boris recoiled apologetically like he'd just sat on a cat.

Someone called Janette wanted to know if there was a figure for how many vaccinated people had died so far. 'Good question,' said Boris. And one he didn't have an answer to.

A BBC reporter asked about the new Indian strain of the virus which had forced him to cancel his upcoming trade mission to New Delhi.

Boris, I noticed, did not look altogether crushed about missing out on a trip to the subcontinent. Maybe he was worried about the food. An acquaintance once told me he can be rather particular about his nosebag.

The rest of the newshounds were desperate to ask about this new soccer super league thingy.

The PM had already admitted yesterday he's not much of a football person. Doesn't even support a team.

But he could see how important the issue is to lots of people. Football was 'codified in this country', he pointed out. Clubs belong to fans. It wasn't the business of billionaire owners to go turning them into global brands.

For a non-footy fan, he seemed pretty comfortable on the subject. Plus it seemed to have stopped people asking about that embarrassing David Cameron/lobbying stuff.

If only it could have prevented someone asking about Jenny Arcuri.

Football news:

Guardiola on Man City before the Champions League final: I didn't talk about Chelsea for a second. We're thinking of Brighton
Cristiano Ronaldo: Someone can have one or two great seasons. The really strong ones are the ones who are good year after year
Real Madrid is the most expensive football brand in the world. Barcelona-second, Manchester United-third (Brand Finance)
Draxler has extended his contract with PSG until 2024
Tottenham value Kane at 150 million pounds and do not want to let him go to the Premier League club
Real Madrid are unlikely to extend their contract with Ramos if Varane stays at the club
The Government of the Russian Federation has allocated more than 1 billion rubles for the preparation and holding of International competitions