After months of revelations and reversals, senior civil servant Sue Gray, deemed intractable, submitted her report to Downing Street in the morning, the government said.
The document must now be made public in its entirety, with details likely to rekindle anger within its majority, a appeased time, or even to demonstrate that the head of the Conservative government has lied to Parliament, which could hasten his departure.
Boris Johnson is due to speak in Parliament on the subject, in addition to his weekly session to answer questions from MPs at 11:00 GMT, and the media are talking about a possible press conference in the afternoon.
After seeing his popularity drop during the winter due to the “partygate”, Boris Johnson managed to straighten his image by showing himself at the forefront of Western support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion. His party, however, suffered heavy losses in local elections in early May, tarnishing the image of a winning machine at the ballot box that has long protected the former mayor of London, and historic inflation is fueling discontent.
His explanations therefore promise to be delicate during this day which marks the end of a long suspense on the work of Sue Gray, long delayed by the parallel launch of a police investigation.
The latter ended last week by revealing the scale of violations of anti-Covid rules in Downing Street, contrasting with the sacrifices of the British during a pandemic which has killed nearly 180,000 people in the United Kingdom. A total of 126 fines issued for eight events, including one to Boris Johnson himself for a surprise birthday drink in June 2020.
This assessment was nevertheless considered relatively lenient for the Prime Minister, who had participated in seemingly more serious rallies and who then seemed in a position to overcome this scandal, like many others before.
– Bottles –
But in recent days, overwhelming photos and testimonials published in the media have relaunched the “partygate”, showing in particular Boris Johnson glass in hand in front of a table covered with bottles for the farewell party of his head of communication in November 2020.
Sue Gray’s report, which the Times says is 40 pages long and covers more than a dozen events, is likely to provide damaging new details as well as the names of people involved in the parties.
A preliminary report, considerably redacted so as not to interfere with the investigations of the police, had given a scathing foretaste, by denouncing among other things “errors of leadership and judgment”.
Boris Johnson apologized when he received the fine but refused to resign. But if the new elements published convince more than fifty members of the majority to let go of him, he risks finding himself targeted by a motion of no confidence, almost three years after his triumphant arrival in Downing Street in the midst of the psychodrama of Brexit.
The report could also fuel accusations of lies that will be examined by another planned investigation, this one parliamentary.
If the latter concludes that he knowingly lied in the gallery of the House of Commons by claiming not to have broken the rules, he is supposed to resign.
Critics from the opposition, who were strongly calling for his resignation, however, have waned since police opened an investigation into Labor leader Keir Starmer.
The latter is accused of having violated the anti-Covid rules during a campaign trip in 2021. Indoor gatherings were prohibited but Keir Starmer explained that he ordered curries and beers for the team gathered that evening. in party premises, the only alternative according to him to closed restaurants.
The leader of Labor and his number two have promised to resign in the event of a fine.