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Boris Johnson insists any delay on ‘Partygate’ report is not his fault as allies rally around him

Labour leader Keir Starmer calls for Gray inquiry to be published in full 


Boris Johnson has his work cut out to survive. Photo: Peter Byrne

Boris Johnson has his work cut out to survive. Photo: Peter Byrne

Boris Johnson has his work cut out to survive. Photo: Peter Byrne

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wait for the findings of an official inquiry into lockdown-busting parties in No 10 and Whitehall continues, as he insists he is not responsible for any delay .

The highly anticipated document from senior civil servant Sue Gray could be pivotal for his future but it has yet to be submitted to No 10, with legal and human resources officials scrutinising it before it can be sent to Downing Street for publication.

The announcement of a Scotland Yard investigation into some of the alleged parties – based in part on the evidence uncovered in the Gray inquiry – has complicated the process, with police and officials wrangling over anything which could prejudice a criminal case.

Mr Johnson travelled to north Wales rather than wait in No 10 for Ms Gray’s report to arrive. Asked if he had been involved in delaying it, he told reporters: “Absolutely not but you’ve got to let the independent inquiries go on.”

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He said “of course” it would be published in full, but officials have made clear that is only the intention of No 10, as they are not yet aware what the format will be and whether any sensitive personal or security information would need to be redacted.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said “we are in no way seeking to block the report”.

The Tory leader has committed to making a Commons statement once he has received the report and this remains a possibility today, even though no government business is scheduled.

But Ms Gray’s report, which had been close to finalised, has been held up by the legal checks, raising the prospect of the process dragging into next week.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “The Sue Gray report needs to be published in full and as soon as possible. And I mean in full – not redacted, not edited, not a summary, not parts left out. In full.”

He said that after the sacrifices made by the British public during the pandemic “the least that they’re entitled to is the truth about what the prime minister was up to”.

With the majority of Tory MPs waiting for the report before passing their own judgment on the party leader, Mr Johnson’s allies rallied around him.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries became the second cabinet minister to warn that ousting Mr Johnson could trigger a general election.

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This could leave many Tory MPs, particularly those in the Red Wall of former Labour heartlands won in Mr Johnson’s 2019 landslide, nervous about keeping their seats.

There is no requirement for a new leader to hold a general election, but Ms Dorries said previous handovers, such as Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, had taken place in “different times”.

Her comments echoed Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader, who said the UK now had “essentially a presidential system”, so any new leader would need their own mandate from the electorate.

In the Commons, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “The reality is that the British elector looks to a leader, and it is very pleased with the leader that it has got.”

If the outcome of the Gray report is significantly damaging, Mr Johnson could face a revolt from his own MPs, who may choose to call a vote of no confidence.

He is under pressure from some Tory MPs to scrap a planned hike in national insurance to win back support.

Meanwhile, foreign secretary Liz Truss has been accused of a “grotesque misuse of taxpayers’ money” following reports she chartered a private jet to Australia which would have cost £500,000 (€600,000).

The Independent reported Ms Truss had opted for the private flight for her trip last week due to security concerns, although commercial flights were available.

The newspaper said she had travelled on the private government Airbus A321, which a senior source told them would have cost £500,000 to operate.

The Foreign Office said the trip was within the rules set by the ministerial code, and using the private jet allowed the trip’s delegation to travel together and have private discussions on sensitive security matters.

But Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the use of the private jet showed “the public exactly quite how little respect this Conservative government has for taxpayers’ money”.

“It is obscene that government ministers are jet setting yet are hiking taxes and refusing to do anything to help working families when they are feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis,” she said.

SNP environment spokesperson Deidre Brock added that it was a “grotesque misuse of taxpayers’ money to fund her jet-set lifestyle”.

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