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Boris Johnson commits to publishing ‘everything we can’ from full Sue Gray inquiry

The British Prime Minister has promised a fuller publication of Gray’s investigation once the Met Police probe has concluded.

Image: PA Images

Updated Feb 1st 2022, 7:40 PM

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has committed to publishing “everything that we can” from the full Sue Gray inquiry into allegations of lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Facing a growing threat to his leadership, the Prime Minister went further today to promise a fuller publication of the senior civil servant’s investigation once the Metropolitan Police probe has concluded.

There has been confusion over the extent of any subsequent report after Johnson refused to accept the demands of Tory MPs and Labour leader Keir Starmer during a Commons statement.

Asked at a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine whether he would commit to publishing the full inquiry, including the 300-plus images handed to investigators, the British Prime Minister said: “Yes, of course we’ll publish everything that we can as soon as the process has been completed, as I said yesterday.”

It comes after Downing Street said earlier that Boris Johnson will reveal if he has been hit with a fine for breaching coronavirus rules.

There had been concerns that the public would never officially be told if the Prime Minister was issued with a fixed penalty notice for attending a No 10 party, because the identity of people issued with a ticket is not usually disclosed by police.

But Downing Street acknowledged the “significant public interest” in the case of the Prime Minister.

It comes as this evening two new revelations were reported by the British media: one being the Guardian revealing that Boris Johnson attended a “prosecco-fuelled” leaving do for a No 10 aide during the strict post-Christmas lockdown, which is now under police investigation.

The Telegraph has also reported that Boris Johnson was in his No 10 flat the night an ABBA-themed party was held – which is also the subject of a police investigation.

What the Met is investigating

Officers are investigating 12 separate gatherings in No 10 and Whitehall during 2020 and 2021 – including three that Boris Johnson is known to have attended and one in the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat – to find out whether coronavirus lockdown laws were broken.

Downing Street had originally insisted it was a matter for the Metropolitan Police to decide whether to name those found to have broken the law.

Scotland Yard pointed to College of Policing guidance stating that the names of people dealt with by fixed penalty notices – the likely punishment for a breach of the coronavirus regulations – would not normally be disclosed.

“Identities of people dealt with by cautions, speeding fines and other fixed penalties – out-of-court disposals – should not be released or confirmed,” the guidance states.

But Johnson’s official spokesman told reporters: “Obviously we are aware of the significant public interest with regard to the Prime Minister and we would always look to provide what updates we can on him, specifically.”

Asked if that meant No 10 would say if he was given a fixed penalty notice, the spokesman said: “Hypothetically, yes.”

Pressure on Boris Johnson

Meanwhile, Peter Aldous became the latest Tory MP to publicly call on Johnson to resign “in the best interests of the country, the Government and the Conservative Party”.

He said that he believed the Prime Minister had no intention of going voluntarily and so he had submitted a letter of the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady calling for a vote of no confidence.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab defended Johnson, saying he “believes he acted in good faith at all times”, suggesting the Prime Minister does not think he personally did anything wrong.

Asked whether Johnson should quit if he is issued with a fixed penalty notice, Raab said: “Let’s wait and see … Allow the police to conduct their investigation and see, when they have ascertained the facts, quite what they conclude.”

Johnson had committed to publishing a fuller version of Gray’s report once the police investigation has concluded before  – but it wasn’t clear how detailed that will be and whether it will include the evidence submitted to the police.

“Anything she gives the Prime Minister he will publish, but ultimately that’s a question for Sue Gray and the timing will depend on the police investigation,” Raab told LBC Radio.

“I understand that there are the individual claims of breaches, of allegations, which must go to the police to investigate.

“It’s not clear to me that there is anything more, other than any conclusions that she will draw once that investigation is concluded, that will come forward.”

Boris Johnson endured a difficult time in the Commons chamber yesterday, where he told MPs: “I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.”

But asked on the Today programme what precisely the Prime Minister is personally sorry about, Raab said: “He recognised that, as Sue Gray said, the standards expected in No 10 were not as they should have been.”

The Deputy Prime Minister said Johnson “takes the organisational responsibility” for the failures identified but he was not commenting on individual cases because of the police investigation.

Commons apology

Johnson apologised to MPs after the publication of Gray’s report, which found “failures of leadership and judgment” as gatherings were held while England was under coronavirus restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

Criticism came from across the House, including from former prime minister Theresa May who asked whether Johnson either did not “read the rules”, understand them, or “didn’t think the rules applied to No 10”.

But by the time he met with parliamentarians in a rare gathering of the whole party later, a U-turn which promised to publish the eventual report in full and promises to shake up how No 10 and the Cabinet Office are run appeared to have calmed tensions, at least for the time being.

Johnson told MPs in the Commons: “Firstly, I want to say sorry – and I’m sorry for the things we simply didn’t get right and also sorry for the way this matter has been handled.

“It’s no use saying this or that was within the rules and it’s no use saying people were working hard. This pandemic was hard for everyone.”

He added: “I get it, and I will fix it. I want to say to the people of this country I know what the issue is.”

However, he faced a hostile response from some on his own side and the threat of a vote of no confidence has not yet been defeated.

‘Deep disappointment’

Former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell told Johnson he “no longer enjoys my support”.

Tory MP Angela Richardson announced she had quit as a ministerial aide to Michael Gove, sharing her “deep disappointment” at the handling of the partygate row.

Aaron Bell, part of the 2019 intake of Red Wall MPs, recalled abiding by coronavirus restrictions for his grandmother’s May 2020 funeral before asking: “Does the Prime Minister think I’m a fool?”

In the Lords, ex-Whitehall chief and independent crossbencher Bob Kerslake said: “Even without the detail the general findings are utterly damning. This goes to the heart of government. Can government be trusted to do the right thing and tell the truth? It’s hard to think of anything more important than that.”

prime-minister-boris-johnson-leaving-the-houses-of-parliament-london-after-he-delivered-a-statement-to-mps-in-the-house-of-commons-on-the-sue-gray-report-picture-date-monday-january-31-2022 Boris Johnson leaving the Commons yesterday. Source: Alamy Stock Photo

But Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said the “mood was positive” among Conservatives following an evening meeting on the Parliamentary estate.

He added: “So many people voted personally for Boris Johnson rather than voting for political parties.

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“Politicians have to accept that our bosses are the British people, and they voted for that, they put him in office.”

Peterborough MP Paul Bristow acknowledged it had been a “difficult day” but said there was support for Johnson.

Bristow said he left “absolutely pumped” and added that nobody in the meeting had called for Johnson to go.

Second report

The change in mood came as No 10 confirmed the PM would ask Gray to produce a second report after the police investigation concludes, and committed to publishing it.

But Gray’s full report and the result of the police probe could yet threaten his premiership again, and Johnson’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings is due to questions on the report online today which could provide more damaging details.

Polling on Monday night from Opinium said 62% of UK adults wanted the PM to resign, and 64% believed Tory MPs should make him go.

It comes after the Met revealed it is reviewing more than 300 images and over 500 pages of information passed to officers by the Gray inquiry.

Rees-Mogg suggested the images should also be published, as he said: “The more people see, the more understanding there will be of precisely what went on.”

Johnson also told MPs he was taking the issue seriously, underling how he had nearly died from coronavirus.

While reports suggested he had told his party that election strategist Lynton Crosby would be offering him strategic advice.

Johnson insisted he was “making changes” to Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, including by creating an Office of the Prime Minister with a permanent secretary to lead No 10.

While Downing Street said work was being carried out on a new policy to tackle the drinking culture in No 10, although a blanket ban on drinking is unlikely given its function as a venue for receptions for visiting dignitaries and charity events.

However, one Conservative who heard from Johnson yesterday said the message to him was that MPs would “judge you by your delivery”.

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