It’s groundhog day in Westminster as once again hacks and ministers ask: when will Sue Gray’s report come out? On Tuesday morning it seemed as though the publication of the investigation would be delayed indefinitely. After the Metropolitan police announced plans to launch a criminal investigation into a number of the alleged parties after the Cabinet Office passed on evidence, there had been indications from inside government that the report would not be published until the police investigation was over — which could take months.
However, ministers are now braced once more for the report to reach No. 10 this week. The Met police have made it clear they have no objection to its publication — given it primarily is an outline of events rather than offering judgment. At the time of writing, Downing Street have not received the report. Instead, the Cabinet Office and Met are in discussions. Once it goes to No. 10, the Prime Minister will have the opportunity to look over it before it is likely published in some form (parts may be redacted) the next day.
Given the contents of the report have already triggered a police investigation, hopes in Downing Street that the worst thing it could do is censure Boris Johnson for a lack of judgment are fading. Instead, aides expect it to make for uncomfortable reading. There are also reports it could refer to photos of parties in Downing Street that include Johnson.
Johnson had planned to apologise over its contents in the chamber and then embark on a staff cull of No. 10. However, the fact that a criminal investigation into various allegations will follow makes any plans for a reset much harder. Any hopes Johnson had to use the publication of the report to draw a line in the sand and move on now seem overly optimistic. Instead, the Prime Minister will have to face the wrath of his MPs over the report only to then go over much of its contents all over again with the Met police.