BORIS JOHNSON maintains “there’s nothing to see here” in the row over who paid for the Downing Street flat to be redecorated, and Home Secretary Priti Patel, campaigning on the streets of Hartlepool, reckons that voters are not in the slightest bit worried by the Westminster bubble story.

It is true that when people across our region voted for him in December 2019, they knew he was unconventional and they knew, by his nature, he would get himself into some strange scrapes. So perhaps voters have already accepted that this sort of story would be a feature of his reign, and thus they are far more interested in other issues.

Labour, though, after a year of not being able to lay a glove on Mr Johnson has now marked his face. They have highlighted that spending £200,000 redecorating a flat is extravagant and they’ve shown how Mr Johnson cannot answer a straight question: who initially paid for the redecorations.

However, is it telling that Labour can only make ground on the failings of its opponents rather than on the attractiveness of its alternative offering?

Perhaps the one good thing about this story of claim and counterclaim is that the public can pass judgement on it very soon. On Thursday, if the Conservatives continue to make gains in the Tees Valley or Durham then we shall know that it really is a Westminster bubble story.