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Was Boris Johnson birthday partying in lockdown or ‘ambushed with a cake’? Britons mock the latest defense.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a birthday cake at a school visit in June 2020. (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/AFP/Getty Images)
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LONDON — Britain’s latest political scandal? A birthday cake ambush at Downing Street.

Defenders of Prime Minister Boris Johnson have tried to play down his role at his own birthday party on June 19, 2020, which broke the government’s lockdown guidelines at the time, by suggesting he wasn’t involved in planning the event and was caught by surprise.

“As far as I can see, he was in a sense, ambushed with a cake,” Conor Burns, a lawmaker from Johnson’s Conservative Party, told Channel 4 News journalist Cathy Newman, adding that “it was not a premeditated, organized party.”

Burns’s defense of Johnson, which quickly went viral, was met with incredulity — including by Newman, who told the lawmaker: “Ambushed with a cake? … It’s just sort of farcical the way you’re all trying to scurry around and defend him.”

News of the party had emerged earlier this week when ITV News reported that Johnson’s wife, Carrie Johnson, helped organize the surprise party, which was attended by about 30 people at his Downing Street office and residence. Guests reportedly sang “Happy Birthday” as the prime minister was given a cake — reportedly a Union Jack-themed sponge cake iced in red and blue.

The birthday party is just one of many lockdown events reportedly attended by the prime minister and government staff being investigated by British police. Civil servant Sue Gray is leading a separate inquiry into the gatherings, with a report expected this week.

Within minutes of Burns’s remarks on Tuesday, the hashtag #ambushedwithacake became one of the top trends on Twitter in Britain as people ridiculed the lawmaker’s defense of the prime minister. Then, of course, came an avalanche of memes.

Food writer and television cook Nigella Lawson tweeted, “it just has to be the title of my next book!” while others claimed that they too had been ambushed by tarts, pies, doughnuts and muffins on numerous occasions.

Others who have never been ambushed with a cake joked it would be “a dream come true.” Perhaps fitting for a nation where one of the most loved TV shows was “The Great British Baking Show,” social media users and politics watchers started debating what kind of sweet treat they would like to one day have thrust upon them by surprise. Many said chocolate, while others responses included lemon drizzle, red velvet and fresh cream. Others ditched the dream of surprise cakes all together, dreaming of rum ambushes instead.

Some, however, took the cake ambush more seriously and wondered what the country’s future would look like with a prime minister at the helm who, according to his defenders, does not even have control over his own birthday party.

“How can we trust a man who gets ambushed by a birthday cake to take us into war in the Ukraine?” one caller to LBC Radio asked.

How many lockdown parties did Boris Johnson and staff attend? Here’s a guide.

Arriving home after Tuesday night’s widely watched interview, Newman took to Twitter to share a photograph of her dinner — which appeared to be vegetables, potatoes and fish.

“Only a little bit disappointed not to be #ambushedwithacake on arriving home,” the journalist joked.

To which one person replied: “Ambushed by a hake, by the looks of it.”

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson continued to confront questions from Parliament on Jan. 19 over his government's flouting of coronavirus restrictions. (Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)