Sam Coates Shouting Questions At Government Ministers Is The Tonic British Politics Needs Right Now

“Would you defend anything at all, Grant Shapps?” was the Sky News reporter in his pomp.

From the cost of living crisis to the interminable partygate saga, British politics is not a place where you’ll find much by way of levity right now.

So it was little wonder the deputy political editor of Sky News, Sam Coates, went viral on Tuesday for his entertaining and enterprising journalism outside No 10 Downing Street following the weekly cabinet meeting.

There’s a long tradition of reporters bellowing questions at politicians as they emerge from the famous front door, and it can be a fairly bovine practice.

But Coates, who broke the story on Friday about an undisclosed meeting between Boris Johnson and partygate report author Sue Gray, has brought some chutzpah to the role – mixing insight, humour and politeness.

To Johnson: “Did you lie at the despatch box, prime minister? Why did you try to stop Sue Gray publishing her report, prime minister?”

The home secretary, who is in charge of crime, was asked: “Do you endorse law-breaking in cabinet, Priti Patel?”

Liz Truss received: “Is partygate embarrassing on the world stage, foreign secretary? Are you being loyal to save your job? Do you think a future prime minister would make you foreign secretary? Do you want to replace Boris Johnson?”

“Would you defend anything at all, Grant Shapps?” to the transport secretary spoke to his reputation for being repeatedly thrown to the media in the wake of the latest controversy.

The chief secretary to the Treasury was pulled up over fumbling his lines a day earlier: “Simon Clarke, why did you get the facts wrong yesterday over the Sue Gray report meeting? Are you embarrassed by getting the facts wrong?”

Attorney general Suella Braverman got a wry one: “Does partygate enhance this government’s reputation, Suella?”, which was followed by an exchange of good mornings.

Dominic Raab’s holiday as Afghanistan fell was not forgotten: “Did you discuss partygate in cabinet, deputy prime minister? Has Boris Johnson got a better grip on the government than you had on the foreign office last year?”

The education’s leadership ambitions were essayed: “Did Boris Johnson lie at the dispatch box, Nadhim Zahawi? Or would you prefer to succeed him as prime minister?”

And, finally, a zinger for international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan: “Did you talk about partygate in cabinet, or is it easier to hear no evil, see no evil?”

“Many important matters to discuss,” she replied.

“I bet there are,” came Coates’ understated riposte.

Social media couldn’t get enough.


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