#Partygate: Downing Street won’t investigate MP #blackmail claims – but does it matter?

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson grinned inanely and bobbed about on his bench while MPs attacked his contempt for the rules and denials of guilt at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (January 19).

The prime minister’s office has said there will be no investigation of claims that Tory whips have blackmailed MPs to keep them from launching a leadership challenge against Boris Johnson.

But does it matter? It’s being claimed that the Sue Gray inquiry into parties at Downing Street has seen an email warning Johnson’s Principal Private Secretary, Martin Reynolds, against holding a lockdown-breaching party in May 2020.

The official who sent the email, who has so far gone unnamed, appears to have told ITV’s Robert Peston that he “probably” also personally warned Johnson against it “but I honestly can’t remember”.

This would corroborate a claim by Johnson’s former top advisor, Dominic Cummings, who said he had also personally warned the prime minister against the party.

That should be enough to sink Johnson, because it would indicate that he deliberately lied to Parliament when he said he attended it in the belief that it was a “work event”.

Still, the accusations are continuing to land. Today it is being claimed that, after Downing Street said it had seen no evidence to support an investigation into blackmail claims, a group of Tory MPs known insultingly as the “Pork Pie Plotters” (because one of them represents Melton Mowbray) are considering releasing evidence that they have faced such threats.

Apparently this includes text messages and a secretly-recorded, “heated”, exchange of words with Conservative Chief Whip Mark Spencer.

Whether this alleged information becomes public knowledge or not, it is being reported that Downing Street is extremely nervous about what Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry will reveal.

It’s being said that officials are now doubtful that it will clear Johnson – and it could be published as early as Monday.

This would make sense if she has seen the alleged email to Martin Reynolds, as it is understood that it would make the case against Johnson airtight.

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