No more Partygate fines for Johnson – if we trust Downing Street – but what will Sue Gray say?

Sue Gray: all eyes are turning to her, now she is at liberty to publish her full – and probably damning – report on Boris Johnson and the illegal Downing Street parties he allowed to happen under his nose.

The prime minister’s office at Downing Street has said that Boris Johnson will not receive a second fine for taking part in illegal parties there during the Covid-19 lockdowns that he himself had imposed.

With the police refusing to name anybody they have fined, we are being asked to take the word of people who are themselves likely to have been fined for taking part in the parties (126 people have) and who may have been told to protect their boss.

But whether or not you believe the people who initially spent more than a year hiding the fact that these parties took place at all, the closure of the Metropolitan Police inquiry means that Cabinet Office civil servant Sue Gray may at last release her own full report on the scandal.

This could be far more damning to Johnson than the police investigation because it may include her verdict on whether he lied to his fellow MPs about whether the parties took place and about his own participation in them.

Lying to Parliament is a grave offence under the Ministerial Code, for which it is entirely possible that Johnson may not only lose his job as prime minister but be expelled from the House of Commons altogether.

Of course, ultimate authority for punishing offences against the Code lies with – guess who? – the prime minister but in a situation in which the PM himself is accused, it seems logical that alternative arrangements will be made to judge the matter.

And MPs have already arranged their own inquiry. A motion for the Commons Privileges Committee to do so was passed “on the nod” after attempts by the Tory leadership to prevent their backbenchers from voting for it were defeated.

We have already been told that the Gray report is so excoriating of Johnson that it may end his premiership:

The Times, citing an official it described as being familiar with the contents of the complete report, said Ms Gray’s full findings were even more personally critical of the Prime Minister and could end his premiership.

According to the paper, the official said: “Sue’s report is excoriating. It will make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister. There’s an immense amount of pressure on her – her report could be enough to end him.” No 10 declined to comment.

According to the i newspaper, in a report last month, Tory rebels have been organising to oust Johnson and the now-four-month reprieve Johnson enjoyed as a result of the police investigation merely allowed them to organise themselves.

Even though we have been told he has not received any more fines, these backbenchers were also watching the results of the local elections at the beginning of the month – in which the Conservatives took a drubbing.

Remember: these were council seats and devolved Parliament places where the Labour Party had enjoyed the so-called “Corbyn bounce” in 2018, and where the Tories may have reasonably expected to make gains this time. Instead both they and Labour lost out to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Ms Gray is expected to release her report next week – and then the sparks may really fly.

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1 thought on “No more Partygate fines for Johnson – if we trust Downing Street – but what will Sue Gray say?

  1. Martyn Meacham

    The tories have proved that they are above the law.The tories should all be rounded up and thrown in prison for what they have done to Britain and the British people!

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