Boris Johnson could be forced to resign as Prime Minister after Sue Gray’s long-awaited report into Downing Street lockdown parties is published.
The investigation is so “excoriating” that Mr Johnson may struggle to hang on to his job, according to a report.
Ms Gray, a senior civil servant, was forced to delay the publication of her investigation into alleged Covid rule-breaking parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall during England’s lockdown due to the Metropolitan Police launching their own inquiry.
The Prime Minister has already been fined for attending one law-breaking gathering held in June 2020, along with his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, but more could follow after the local elections.
The Gray Report will be released when the criminal investigation by the Met Police is over.
Could Boris Johnson be forced to resign?
In an interim report published in January, the Cabinet Office official said there had been “failures of leadership and judgement” in No 10 over the so-called partygate saga.
An official described as being familiar with the contents of Ms Gray’s findings claimed the report is so damning it could force the Prime Minister out of office, saying the full findings were even more personally critical of Mr Johnson.
The official told The Times: “Sue’s report is excoriating. It will make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister.
“There’s an immense amount of pressure on her — her report could be enough to end him.”
It comes amid separate reports in the i newspaper that Conservative rebels are preparing to oust Mr Johnson in the event of a poor showing at the local elections next month, or if further fines are issued to him.
Downing Street is said to be braced for Mr Johnson to receive a second fixed-penalty notice (FPN) after police reportedly began issuing fines relating to a “bring your own bottle” event in the No 10 garden on 20 May 2020.
The PM reportedly attended half of the 12 gatherings currently being investigated by police.
On Sunday (24 April), Cabinet ministers offered a defence of the Prime Minister, with Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden suggesting it was “quite a speculation” to predict Mr Johnson could be hit with more FPNs.
He and Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg backed Mr Johnson to lead the Tories into the next general election, which is currently scheduled for no later than January 2025.
Mr Dowden told Sky News there was a “very strong case for the Prime Minister remaining in office” despite mounting pressure from his own backbenches for him to quit.
M Johnson’s critics have begun working in a coordinated fashion and are “holding back” to wait for the local election results or for further FPNs to be issued, according to the i.
The paper cited other reports that some rebels have prepared no confidence letters to be submitted en masse to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs should the party take a battering at the polls on 5 May.
Mr Dowden has admitted that the local council elections will be “challenging”, and a bad performance is likely to increase the number of Tory MPs formally calling for a change in leadership.