LONDON — Britain’s latest political scandal? A birthday cake ambush at Downing Street.
“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.
"He was ambushed with a cake."— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) January 25, 2022
A Conservative MP says that a birthday celebration held in Downing Street for Boris Johnson wasn't a "premeditated party".
Conor Burns tells @cathynewman that he supports Boris Johnson and that "the public will ultimately judge". pic.twitter.com/EGy0lcxXLA
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.
I too have been #ambushedwithcake on numerous occasions.— Marc Blank-Settle (@MarcSettle) January 25, 2022
I tried to choux them away, but I only got a tart response which was a trifle disappointing.
<this might not make much sense to anyone not following UK politics closely> pic.twitter.com/nwWfxxlHT5
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.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Today’s reports of ‘ambush by cake’ should be taken seriously. If approached by a cake, exercise caution - even if its intentions seem benign. Keep a safe distance and, as loudly as possibly, sound the alarm, or phone the hotline 0800 CAKEALERT. pic.twitter.com/gU4Tz69KX0— Matthew d'Ancona (@MatthewdAncona) January 25, 2022
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.
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.”