(Sky News) Boris Johnson has received the long-awaited report by Sue Gray into lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
“We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided an update on her investigations to the prime minister,” a Cabinet Office spokesman said.
What happens now?
The senior civil servant’s findings are expected to be made public within hours and the prime minister will make a statement in the House of Commons from around 3:30 pm which will then be followed by questions from MPs.
Mr. Johnson’s spokesman said: “The findings will be published on gov.uk and made available in the House of Commons library this afternoon and the prime minister will then provide a statement to the House after people have had the opportunity to read and consider the findings.”
Downing Street has said it will publish the report in the full form it has received from the inquiry, but the PM’s spokesman said he “can’t confirm at this point” if what has been removed from the Gray report because of the Met’s investigation will ever be published.
Sources have told Sky News the update is a version of the report that complies with the Metropolitan Police’s request that it make only “minimal reference” to events that are being looked at as part of its criminal probe, rather than the full details of all events examined during the investigation.
According to Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates, the use of the word “update” to describe the document given to Downing Street indicates a full document will still be released by Ms Gray once the police investigation concludes.
In his latest comments on Monday morning, Mr Johnson said he “sticks absolutely to what he’s said in the past” about alleged breaches of COVID rules in Downing Street.
Speaking on a visit to the port in Tilbury, Essex, the PM would not be drawn when asked whether the report would be a “whitewash” after the Met’s request.
Although the PM has committed to publishing the report in full, opposition parties have expressed fears that redactions could mean the details of the most serious breaches will never be made public.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, recently said he wanted the report published “in full and the investigation finished as quickly as possible”, claiming the government was “paralysed” by the police probe.
“Any issues of prejudice have got to be worked through but this whole mess, this whole paralysing of politics, is being caused by the prime minister and his wrongdoing,” he said.
How did we get here?
Mr Johnson has come under pressure to resign over the partygate revelations concerning gatherings that took place in Downing Street and across Whitehall in 2020 and 2021 when COVID-19 restrictions were in place.
If the Cabinet Office report is critical of the PM – particularly if the findings indicate he may have misled parliament – it could further imperil his position and spark a no-confidence vote in his leadership if enough of his Conservative MPs demand a contest.
In the latest revelation, Number 10 has admitted the PM had a birthday celebration inside Downing Street during the first COVID lockdown in 2020.
Mr Johnson has already admitted attending a garden party in Downing Street in May of that year, which was described by one of his aides as a “bring your own booze” event.
But he has claimed he thought it was a “work event” and that “nobody told me” it was against the rules.
The revelation that officials held two parties in Downing Street the day before the Queen sat alone at Prince Philip’s funeral in April last year also provoked fury.
Number 10 later apologised to the Queen and said Mr Johnson was not in Downing Street that day.