MPs and the British public will have to wait at least another day to hear from the prime minister about the findings of Sue Gray’s Partygate report, after the House of Commons adjourned for the day earlier than expected at 4.40pm.
Deputy speaker Dame Rosie Winterton said earlier that a statement would not be possible once the chamber retired for the evening. She also told MPs she had received “no notice” of plans for the PM to make such a statement.
Ms Gray, the senior civil servant who is leading the Cabinet Office investigation into alleged lockdown-breaching parties at No 10, finished up her inquiry last night and was given the green light by police probing the matter to publish it in full. Reports last night suggested she was in possession of photographs showing parties in Downing Street, including images of the PM, alcohol bottles and people stood close together.
During a particularly explosive PMQs this afternoon, Mr Johnson was branded a “liar not a leader” after he attempted to insult Sir Keir Starmer, branding him a “lawyer not a leader” as the Labour leader continues on his mission to oust Mr Johnson from office.
Tory MPs will decide whether to oust Boris Johnson in ‘next few days’, says Iain Duncan Smith
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said the party’s MPs will decide on Boris Johnson’s future in “the next few days”.
The senior Tory figure said he was reserving “judgement” on the prime minister until the release of the Sue Gray report into parties in Downing Street during lockdown restrictions.
But Sir Iain condemned the “appalling” social gatherings at No 10 and Whitehall, and made clear that Mr Johnson was now battling to save his premiership.
Read the story here:
No 10 needed ‘serious leadership’ over pandemic rules, says ex-leader
Odds of Johnson resigning by end of January have drifted overnight - bookmaker
Boris Johnson’s odds to resign by the end of the month have drifted from 3/1 to 6/1 overnight on the Betfair Exchange Barometer, going from a 20 per cent chance to 14 per cent.
The prime minister is currently 4/1 to face a vote of no confidence this month and those odds on the Betfair Exchange Barometer could tumble if Sue Gray’s report is damning to his position, the bookmaker said.
Rishi Sunak remains the strong favourite at 15/8 to replace Johnson as the next Conservative leader, while Liz Truss is 13/2 and Jeremy Hunt is 8/1.
‘He hasn’t robbed a bank’: Backbench Tory MP defends PM
Backbench Tory MP Andrew Rosindell has told Sky News that Boris Johnson has “not robbed a bank” as he appealed for the PM to be excused for his behaviour during Covid lockdowns.
He said: “There are massive issues that we face today, and yet all I hear is people talking about is certain members of staff having parties in gardens and birthday cake. Are we going to drag another prime minister out of office on something like that, surely.
“He made mistakes, no question about that. We all do. I think we’ve all done it, let’s not be so judgemental that the prime minister of the United Kingdom has not committed some horrendous terrible crime that deserves the entire government to be derailed.”
Asked if it was okay for Mr Johnson to break the rules, Mr Rosindell said: “Lots of people break the law in small ways, sometimes unintentionally … He’s not robbed a bank – this is getting out of control.”
Officials could be given fixed penalty notices, says lawyer
Legal expert Adam Wagner has said police investigators may request further evidence before “interviewing people under caution” about Downing Street and Whitehall gatherings.
“The police need to establish that they reasonably believe that a criminal offence has been committed under the relevant regulations and they can give out a fixed penalty notice,” he told Sky News.
He said the potential fines range from £60 (for attending banned social gatherings during the first lockdown in 2020), up to £850 (for people attending social gatherings of more than 15 people in 2021).
Mr Wagner said there were other potential criminal offences for the police to consider: “For example, incitement encouraging other people to break the law, or even misconduct in public office – if the conduct was in breach of public trust, and were serious enough.”
Johnson still without Gray report in lead-up to PMQs
With less than 90 minutes to go before Boris Johnson faces MPs at prime minister’s question time at noon, a Downing Street source told The Independent that No 10 has still not received the Sue Gray report into “partygate”.
Former whip says lockdown party claims ‘unedifying'
Former assistant government whip Matt Warman has said that recent accusations about the PM having a birthday party during lockdown are “unedifying”.
He said: “I definitely think it’s unedifying. I definitely think it’s a huge distraction from all the really important work that the government is doing and needs to get on with.
“I suppose that is one of the reasons why the PM commissioned Sue Gray’s report in the first place... because he recognises the need to draw a line and to establish some of the facts.”
Mr Warman also said he “genuinely doesn’t recognise” the accusations of blackmail that have been made against the Conservative party whips.
He told Times Radio: “I genuinely don’t recognise it. We all heard the ancient history of the government whip’s office during Maastricht and decades ago when there was an immensely different culture.
“That is a world away from the whip’s office that I was in or anyone’s been in for a long, long time. Does it depress me that these are the sorts of stories that are bandied around? Yes, it does. Does that make them true? No, it doesn’t.”
Boris Johnson photographed on morning run
Boris Johnson was photographed jogging with his dog Dilyn, in London, this morning, ahead of a potentially bruising PMQs at midday.
‘Change in culture’ needed at No 10, says Liz Truss as she bats away leadership questions
Boris Johnson must change the “culture” of Downing Street after a series of allegations that staff partied during Covid lockdown restrictions, the foreign secretary Liz Truss said.
Asked if she was interested in replacing him, Ms Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I want the prime minister to continue in his job, he’s doing a great job.”
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Foreign secretary says she wasn’t invited to any Downing Street parties
Chris Bryant condemns ‘utterly despicable’ partygate scandal
The chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards has accused the PM of believing he is “above the law” as he condemned the “utterly despicable” partygate saga.
Chris Bryant voiced anger about the government’s handling of alleged lockdown breaches in Number 10 and said Boris Johnson’s moral authority has “completely eroded”.
“This is why it’s utterly despicable that we’ve had to go through all of this, because you’ve got the complete erosion of the prime minister’s moral authority because of this pattern of behaviour,” he said.
“It’s so disrespectful to the bus drivers, the nurses in ICU and everybody else that Tory MPs come on the air and say ‘Well, all these people in Downing Street, we’re working terribly hard.’ Well, I’m sorry, everybody was working terribly hard.”
Exclusive: Home Office refuses police watchdog advice to equip immigration officers with bodycams during raids
The Home Office has rejected a recommendation by the police watchdog to equip immigration enforcement officers with body-worn video cameras in response to the death of a young man during an immigration raid.
Mustafa Dawood, 23, was found on the floor of an industrial unit with fatal head injuries after Immigration Enforcement - a law enforcement command within the Home Office - raided a car wash in Newport, south Wales, in June 2018. An inquest in November 2021 concluded that immigration officers’ actions could have contributed to the death.
The Sudanese national, who had fled persecution in his home country, had been refused asylum by the Home Office and was working illegally at the Shaftesbury hand car wash when it was raided.
Read May Bulman’s full story here:
Exclusive: Ministers refuse to give body-worn cameras to immigration enforcement despite recommendation from IOPC after asylum seeker died while being pursued by officers
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