Prime Minister Boris Johnson is awaiting the findings of an inquiry into claims of lockdown-breaching parties, a document that may either help him end weeks of controversy and anger, or signal the end of his tenure in government.
Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, may submit her report to the government as early as Wednesday. Johnson’s office has pledged to make its conclusions public, and the prime minister will speak to Parliament about them shortly.
Gray’s office declined to comment on the timing, and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss claimed the report had not yet been received by the Conservative administration on Wednesday morning.
“I don’t think we’ll have to wait long,” she told reporters.
Truss said she couldn’t promise the government would release the entire report, citing “security concerns” that make some portions of it difficult to release. However, the report’s results will undoubtedly be made public.”
Allegations that the prime minister and his staff disobeyed countrywide limits aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus have sparked public outrage, prompted some Conservative legislators to call for Johnson’s resignation, and sparked fierce infighting within the ruling party.
Johnson’s popularity has plummeted in opinion surveys as a result of the scandal, and Wednesday’s stories added to his woes. “PM’s jeopardy” was the front-page headline in the Guardian, while the left-leaning Daily Mirror boldly said, “Number’s up, PM.” The right-wing Daily Mail, on the other hand, called the United Kingdom “a nation that has lost all sense of balance.”
Johnson has encouraged his detractors to wait for Gray’s findings, but his “wait and see” position was undercut Tuesday when police said that some of the gatherings had been subjected to a criminal investigation.
The Metropolitan Police Service in London claimed that “a number of occurrences” at Johnson’s Downing Street office and other government facilities fulfilled the force’s requirements for pursuing the “most serious and egregious” violations of coronavirus guidelines.
While Britain was under coronavirus limitations in 2020 and 2021, Gray is looking into reports that government employees conducted late-night soirees, drunken parties, and “wine time Fridays.”
Many in Britain have been enraged by the “partygate” charges, since they were prohibited from socializing with friends and family for months in 2020 and 2021 in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Police punished tens of thousands of individuals for disobeying the regulations.
Johnson and his supporters have attempted, but failed, to quiet a scandal that is draining government resources that could be better spent dealing with the international crises over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and a still-unfinished coronavirus epidemic.
Johnson has apologized for attending one event, a “bring your own booze” get-together in the grounds of his Downing Street offices in May 2020, but claims he believed it a work-related get-together that was within the guidelines.
His staff and allies have also defended a surprise birthday celebration for Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street in June 2020.
Conor Burns, a loyal legislator, said Johnson was unaware of the gathering beforehand.
“It wasn’t a planned, coordinated gathering […] In a way, he was ambushed with a cake,” Burns explained to Channel 4 News.