ANOTHER day, another Johnson lie.

Emails released today from an official at the Foreign Office to the​Commons foreign affairs select committee show that, despite his denials, Boris Johnson did indeed order the rescue of an animal rescue charity's animals and staff from Kabul as the city fell to the Taliban. Johnson has previously strenuously denied that he had intervened, dismissing the claim as "complete nonsense".

The evacuation had led to allegations that the British Government was prioritising pets over people. The Prime Minister's decision meant that vulnerable people who had worked for the British forces in Afghanistan were left behind to face potential retribution from the Taliban.

Prior to Johnson's intervention, the Foreign Office would not have considered Afghan nationals working for an animal rescue charity founded by a former British serviceman to fall into the "extremely vulnerable" category and hence they would not have been prioritised for evacuation over former interpreters for British forces or Afghan security staff guarding British institutions in the country. Far less would the Foreign Office have considered cats and dogs to be a priority for evacuation.

Meanwhile, the shadow of the Sue Gray report hung heavy over PMQs today. Despite rumours that the publication of the report is imminent, we’re still waiting.

Johnson is using this time to bolster his support among Conservative MPs. Even if the publication of the report does trigger a leadership challenge, and the required 54 Tory MPs write to the chair of the backbench 1922 Committee to trigger a leadership contest, there is still no clear successor and it is by no means certain that the challenge would succeed.

The rules of Conservative leadership contests require that should Johnson survive the vote of no confidence, as Theresa May did in December 2018, he could not be challenged again for another year.

Johnson has shown that he does not intend to go down without a fight, and if we are to believe the allegations made in recent days by rebel Tory MPs that they have been subjected to a vicious campaign of blackmail and intimidation by Conservative whips, it's clear that Johnson is quite prepared to play dirty in order to retain his hold on power – something which would be very much in character for him.

Johnson loyalists are certainly more willing to speak out in his favour, even though Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had a car crash of an interview on Sky News this morning, defending a prime minister whom Tories are reduced to claiming was "ambushed by a cake".

So far we have gone from: "There were no parties"; to, "It can't be a party if people are wearing suits"; to, "OK there were parties but he thought it was a business meeting"; to, "OK it was a party but only for 10 minutes"; to, "He was ambushed by a cake". And now we are at, "Well it's not like he robbed a bank, or indeed a cake shop."

Truss is not noted for her cogent interventions in public life. This is the woman who was called "not merely irrational but demented" by former Australian prime minister Paul Keating, who added that the British Government suffers from "delusions of grandeur and relevance deprivation". He's not wrong there.

Truss did so poorly in her defence of Johnson that she failed to turn up for her scheduled interview on Good Morning Britain, who empty chaired her. It's fair to say that the empty chair put up a far better performance than the Foreign Secretary would have, and is now being touted as a possible frontrunner in a Tory leadership contest.

In honour of Johnson's Turkish ancestry, an old Turkish proverb is perhaps appropriate at this juncture: "When a clown moves into a palace, he doesn't become a king. The palace becomes a circus."

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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