Boris Johnson is facing a make-or-break week for his premiership as a report into Downing Street parties held during lockdown is due to be published.
The Prime Minister is braced for the outcome of the ‘partygate’ inquiry, which is being carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray, which could determine his fate.
Could there be a vote of no confidence?
Many Tory MPs have said they will wait to see the findings of the inquiry before deciding whether to push for a vote of confidence which could see him ousted.
Mr Johnson is reportedly determined to hang on to his leadership, believing that he has done nothing wrong, but the outcome of the report may leave him with little choice.
Some rebel MPs have indicated they will submit letters of no confidence to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, when the report is published.
Under party rules, once the total number of letters reaches 54 - 15% of Tory MPs - Sir Graham must call a vote of confidence in the leader.
It is possible Mr Johnson may win such a vote, but it would nevertheless mark a further blow to his already diminished authority, raising questions as to how long he could continue.
Speaking to the Daily Express, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Prime Minister “recognises the need for change in the Downing Street operation”.
He told the paper: “There’s no doubt in my mind that the PM regrets deeply the hurt this affair has caused.
“I know the last thing he would want is to offend people who have followed the rules and suffered as a consequence.”
The report may also lead to renewed calls for the Metropolitan Police to open a criminal investigation if there is clear evidence that Covid restrictions in place at the time of the Downing Street parties were breached.
What parties are being investigated?
Among the events Ms Gray has been investigating is a “bring your own bottle” party held in the Downing Street garden in May 2020 during the first lockdown.
Mr Johnson has admitted he attended for 25 minutes, but he thought it was a “work event” – an explanation that was met with widespread derision.
She has also been looking at two staff leaving dos on 16 April last year on the eve of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, which have already seen No 10 apologise to Buckingham Palace.
Over the weekend, The Sunday Times reported that Ms Gray’s inquiry had been widened to cover claims of parties in Mr Johnson’s Downing Street flat which he shares with his wife, Carrie, and their two children.
The Daily Telegraph also reported that Ms Gray has been taking detailed testimony from police guarding Downing Street to help her build a detailed picture of the comings and goings during lockdown.
How will the report be published?
As yet, it remains unclear what form Ms Gray’s report will take.
On Sunday Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said there would be “full transparency” but declined to commit to publishing the report in full.
He said: “The process for it will be for the Prime Minister to decide”.
Labour said the report must be published “in its entirety with all accompanying evidence”.
Ms Grey’s findings are not expected to be released on Monday, but could come out any day this week.
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.