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BORIS JOHNSON was once again under intense pressure to resign today as MPs waited for a report that could force the Prime Minister out of office over his “Partygate” antics.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray was reported as having briefed the PM on her findings earlier today regarding allegations of lockdown rule-breaking in Downing Street and across Whitehall.
But she had yet to hand her report in to Downing Street at the time the Star went to print and before Commons was adjourned, saving Mr Johnson from having to make a statement to MPs on its findings.
The contents of Ms Gray’s report could play a significant role in deciding the fate of Mr Johnson’s leadership, with internal opponents waiting for its findings before deciding whether they will submit formal letters of no confidence in his leadership.
An indication of how damaging the report could be emerged when Scotland Yard chief Dame Cressida Dick announced a police inquiry was being carried out, based in part on evidence obtained by the Gray investigation.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the House that talks were ongoing with the government over how MPs would receive the report.
Sir Lindsay said discussions were taking place with Downing Street and Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg to make sure MPs were given “time to digest” Ms Gray’s report.
The Speaker said he would expect members to be able to see the report in advance and that he was “more than happy to adjourn” to give members a proper opportunity to consider it.
After speculation that the PM was considering redacting parts of the report, Labour warned that there were a number of parliamentary devices “that have been used in the past for the publication of reports and documents.”
The issue of what form the Gray report will be published in appears to be a source of tension between the inquiry team and No 10.
Sources close to the probe expect it to be published in full, although ultimately it is a matter for Mr Johnson to decide.
Downing Street said it is the intention to publish the report in the format in which Mr Johnson receives it.
“It is simply a reflection of the fact that we have not received the findings and don’t know its format, that’s why it remains our intention to publish it as received,” the PM’s official spokesman said.
Labour could use parliamentary procedures in an attempt to force the publication of the full Gray report if Mr Johnson does not release it.
Partygate was again the main subject of a stormy Prime Minister’s Questions as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer renewed his demand for Mr Johnson to resign over allegations of serial lockdown rule breaking by him and Whitehall staff.
Sir Keir asked the PM whether the ministerial code applied to him in that ministers “who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation.”
Referring to the Metropolitan Police’s own investigation into the breaches, Mr Johnson told the opposition leader that he was not able to comment.
Sir Keir challenged the PM over his statements on December 1 and 8 2021, during which he claimed that Mr Johnson had misled the House.
He said: “We now have the shameful spectacle of a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom being subject to a police investigation, unable to lead the country, incapable of doing the right thing and every day his Cabinet fail to speak out they become more and more complicit.”
He said Mr Johnson and his government had “shown nothing but contempt for the decency, honesty and respect that define this country.”
Mr Johnson declined the invitation from the Labour leader to resign “since he acknowledges the ministerial code applies to him.”
Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle was forced by the Speaker to withdraw a comment that he would “prefer to be led by a lawyer than a liar.”
Mr Russell-Moyle had said: “My constituents think he has lied.
“My constituents think that he has lied to this House and my constituents think that he lied to them when he was partying.”
Scottish National Party Westminster leader Ian Blackford called on the Tory benches to “get this over with and show the Prime Minister the door.”
“Every moment that this Prime Minister lingers, every nick in this death by a thousand cuts is sucking attention from the real issues facing the public,” he said.
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