The top 10 UK politics quotes of 2022

Boris Johnson was 'ambushed with a cake', claims loyal Tory MP

In 2022 we had three prime ministers, four chancellors, a permacrisis, and unquantifiable chaos.

Along the way, we saw politicians say a number of odd things, make dodgy claims and generally make fools of themselves.

How can we possibly explain the last 365 days?

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These are the 10 quotes that best sum up the year that was in politics.

1. Conor Burns: "He was ambushed with a cake"

It feels like a surreal fever dream from years ago now but the political discourse in January was dominated by accusations that Tories broke the coronavirus rules they themselves put in place for the rest of the country to follow.

ITV reported there was a short birthday party in the then-prime minister's office involving a cake and snacks in 2020.

When asked about it, Tory MP Burns defended Johnson and his choice of words were instantly derided and Burns said he had made "a little bit of an a**e" of himself in a separate interview.

Later in the year, the Met Police found that "ambushed" or not, the meeting broke Covid rules and Johnson, his wife Carrie Johnson and the then chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined £50 each.

When Burns was asked about it in yet another interview, Angela Rayner joked he had been "ambushed with the truth".

2. Neil Parish: "Funnily enough it was tractors I was looking at"

In April, political discourse moved away from cakes to... tractor porn. How lucky we are to live in such a serious country with the most intelligent representatives!

Tory MP Neil Parish was forced to resign after he admitted to watching porn in the commons not once, but twice.

He claimed the first time was accidental after looking at tractors online but that the second was "a moment of madness".

His interview with the BBC trying to explain himself was unbelievable and, perhaps, a second "moment of madness."

3. Boris Johnson: "Them's the breaks"

But one politician was having an even worse time of it - Johnson. Over the year, scandals mounted upon scandals mounted upon scandals and after reports about the way he handled allegations about Chris Pincher became the straw that broke his back, he took to the steps of Downing Street and resigned.

In his July speech, he said: "I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them's the breaks."

4. Keir Starmer: "Charge of the lightweight brigade"

The day before his resignation, Starmer and Johnson faced-off during PMQs and Starmer wiped the floor with him, trouncing the whole party for good measure.

“What a pathetic spectacle,” he said.

"As for those who are left – only in office because no one else is prepared to debase themselves any longer. The charge of the lightweight brigade. Have some self-respect. For a week he’s had them defending his decision to promote a sexual predator. Every day the lines he has forced them to take have been untrue.”


5. Liz Truss: "I'm ready to hit the ground from day one"

So Johnson became toast, and fast-forward through one painfully long leadership contest later, Truss replaced him. And she was apparently so excited about becoming the next prime minister, she forgot to do some proofreading and revealed her plans to "hit the ground".

6. Liz Truss: "I'm a fighter not a quitter"

Her badly-worded tweet turned out to be the least of her problems, and also quite prophetic as Truss crashed the economy, burned through yet another chancellor and ended up being the shortest-serving prime minister in history.

Yes, she delivered her fighting talk at PMQs then the next day, resigned on 20 October.

7. Penny Mordaunt: "The prime minister is not under a desk"

Mere days before, she didn't turn up to the commons and sent Mordaunt in to deputise for her.

MPs weren't happy to see the understudy. Labour MP Stella Creasy said: “All we know right now is unless she tells us otherwise, the Prime Minister is cowering under her desk and asking for it all to go away.

“Isn’t it about time she did and let somebody else who can make decisions in the British national interest get in charge instead?”

Mordaunt replied: “Well, the Prime Minister is not under a desk, as the honourable lady says…” as the commons burst out laughing.

8. Suella Braverman: "Guardian reading, tofu-eating wokerati"

And a day before Truss resigned, her home secretary Braverman lost the plot and branded Labour and the Lib-Dems the "Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati".

She was defending a new controversial Public Order Bill which when she made the comments, which would give more power to authorities to control disruptive events by the likes of Just Stop Oil.

Her odd comments have followed her ever since.

9. Matt Hancock: "I messed up so I fessed up"

Over to the I'm a Celebrity jungle in November now where Hancock was still struggling to rebuild his reputation thanks to his carrying-on during the pandemic in 2021.

Pleading for forgiveness with his jungle campmates, the former health secretary admitted he had "messed up" but of course, he also "fessed up" so who is still annoyed at him?

10. Jeremy Corbyn: "If I’m going to live rent free in his head at least he could accurately reflect what I think"

Back in blighty in November, the former Labour leader finally tired of Tories using him as a political punchline. Rishi Sunak had mocked his supposed ideas on national security during an edition of PMQs and Corbyn was tired of the criticism.

We can't begin to imagine what 2023 has in store.

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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