It now appears unlikely the Sue Gray report will be published today after the Commons adjourned at the early time of 4.41pm – and Downing Street still hasn’t even seen the inquiry
Boris Johnson was left sweating tonight as he faced another day of limbo waiting for Sue Gray’s Downing Street parties report.
The top civil servant plans to send a full report to No10 on lockdown-busting gatherings imminently – after deciding it would not prejudice a police probe.
Downing Street is expected to publish that report within hours of receiving it and the Tory leader will then rush to Parliament to make a statement.
But Downing Street had still not received Sue Gray’s report as of 5.30pm tonight.
And the Commons adjourned for today at 4.41pm – meaning Mr Johnson cannot make a statement until 10.30am on Thursday at the earliest.
That suggests No10 will not publish Sue Gray’s report tonight, even if they receive it in time, because Mr Johnson would have little chance to own the narrative in Parliament.
It follows days of chaotic briefing and counter-briefing over the report after Sue Gray concluded her work into around a dozen parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
It was thought the report would have to be delayed or split in two after Scotland Yard announced it would investigate “a number of” gatherings inside No10.
But it then emerged Ms Gray would send her full findings to No10 after all.
While there were concerns it could prejudice the police investigation, lockdown offenses are punished with fines so any Scotland Yard probe is unlikely to end up in court.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman indicated the delay was due to checking with police, saying: “We need assurance that nothing we’ve received cuts across the Met”.
No10 insisted its “intention” was to publish the Sue Gray report in the same format Boris Johnson receives it.
The Mirror understands Sue Gray expects her full report to be published – but it will not contain all the evidence she received, and may not contain elements like text exchanges or photos of Boris Johnson with wine bottles.
Instead it is likely to be a detailed summary, and could recommend disciplinary action against individual staff but this would be kept secret.
Boris Johnson could be interviewed by police over the parties – the first time a sitting PM has been grilled by cops in 16 years.
The PM’s spokesman said he was not aware of the police asking to interview the Prime Minister in relation to the Met inquiry, but “as a rule I’m not going to be getting into individuals who may or may not be involved”.
Labor could use parliamentary procedures in an attempt to force the publication of the full Gray report if Mr Johnson does not release it.
That could take the form of a “humble address”, effectively a message to the Queen demanding the publication of papers.
The Prime Minister has been speaking to Tory MPs in the Commons in an attempt to shore up his position while he waits for the report.
At Prime Minister’s Questions earlier, Mr Johnson rejected calls to resign and insisted he was “getting on with the job”, although he acknowledged there were people who “want me out of the way”.
The contents of Ms Gray’s report could play a significant role in deciding the fate of Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Tory critics are waiting for its findings before deciding if they will submit formal letters of no confidence in him or not.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested Mr Johnson had misled Parliament about Downing Street parties, something which would normally require a minister to resign.
Asked if he would now quit, the Prime Minister said: “No.”
Sir Keir 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 contemplate for the decency, honesty and respect that define this country”.
Mr Johnson replied: “Of course he wants me out of the way – he does, and of course I don’t deny, for all sorts of reasons, many people may want me out of the way.”
But he said Sir Keir wanted him out because “he knows that this Government can be trusted to deliver.”
He added: “We’re – and in particular I am – getting on with the job.”
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.
The steady stream of alleged breaches of lockdown rules have undermined the Prime Minister, but many critics have held off putting in formal letters of no confidence until Ms Gray’s report is released.
If Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, receives 54 letters – from 15% of Tory MPs – a vote on Mr Johnson’s leadership would be held.
Robert Halfon, Tory chairman of the Commons Education Committee, said Mr Johnson needs to “reset” his administration.
“I don’t need Sue Gray or the police to tell me or my constituents of Harlow that what’s gone on has been pretty awful,” he told Times Radio.
“We all feel let down and disappointed.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.