Even if Sue Gray exonerates Johnson over Partygate, public opinion won’t

Never mind fines, what matters to voters is that those in No 10 were massive hypocrites, writes Sean O'Grady

Friday 20 May 2022 19:24
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<p>The PM obviously thought it acceptable that he and his colleagues decide the risks for themselves</p>

The PM obviously thought it acceptable that he and his colleagues decide the risks for themselves

Having been delayed and delayed for so many months, will the “full” Sue Gray report into widespread lawbreaking in Downing Street be worth the wait? In other words, will it exonerate the prime minister? Or will it confirm, not only that he broke the law, but that he also encouraged others to do so?

The spin is that the report will make for very uncomfortable reading for Boris Johnson, whatever the Metropolitan Police made of his witness statement. Unless that spin is misguided, or the product of some attempt to massage expectations, and the reality will merely be gruesome rather than appalling, it seems reasonable to assume that the conclusions Ms Gray reaches will turn out to be just as damaging as any number of fixed penalty notices.

From what is known so far about the parties – and other unnecessary, unlawful social gatherings – including the details conveyed in Ms Gray’s interim report, it’s reasonable to assume that the prime minister knew about many of these events, even if he did not attend all of them. Most importantly, he created an accommodating atmosphere in which they could take place.

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