Inside Politics: Met called in to probe partygate as Gray report ‘published today’

Scotland Yard is passed information from Cabinet Office probe, which reports say has been completed but not yet handed to PM, writes Matt Mathers

Wednesday 26 January 2022 08:39

First it wouldn’t be published on Wednesday. Then it would…until it might not be, but then it definitely would be…Now we’re not sure again. Following the Met Police announcement that it is to launch a criminal investigation into Downing Street and Whitehall drinks gatherings during lockdown, Westminster was sent into convulsions about when the delayed and hotly anticipated Sue Gray report might finally see the light of day. According to reports this morning, it has been completed but not yet handed over to Boris Johnson and his No 10 aides, although it may be published this afternoon. The prime minister will surely be absolutely furious if he hasn’t received it in time for PMQs, where he is likely to face another partygate grilling by Keir Starmer. The problem for No 10 is that there will be another PMQs next week — not to mention any urgent questions on the matter — and Johnson finds himself in between a rock and a hard place about whether or not to publish the report in its entirety, along with all the accompanying evidence. Doing so could be extremely damaging for Johnson personally and further imperil his faltering premiership. Not doing so is likely to result in inevitable accusations of a cover up. Michael Ellis, the paymaster general and minister for UQs on partygate, chose not to answer a series of laser-focused questions on such details from Angela Rayner in the Commons yesterday. Away from partygate, the drumbeat of war grows ever louder on the Russia-Ukraine border and the government is under increasing pressure to scrap the planned tax hike.

Inside the bubble

Today is all about PMQs and the potential release of Gray’s report. But there is other business taking place in parliament. Commons proceedings get underway with Northern Ireland questions at 11.30am, followed by PMQs. After that are any UQs or statements. The main business will be the second reading of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill.

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