The Metropolitan Police’s decision to investigate lockdown parties undoubtedly makes things more serious for Downing Street. It is now harder to argue, as some supporters of Boris Johnson had begun to do privately, that these matters are fundamentally too trivial to account for a Prime Minister departing if the police have been called in to investigate.
The Met’s investigation also looks like it will delay publication of Sue Gray's report. A large group of Tory MPs were waiting for the Gray report before deciding whether or not to send in a letter, though many had in reality already decided what they were going to do. What will they do now Gray is delayed? One influential former cabinet minister who was highly likely to send a letter tells me the ‘idea we can resolve this matter quickly has receded’. He adds:
‘I don’t see how it is honourable to make up our minds when we haven’t seen the evidence we were waiting for.’
This suggests there’ll be no rapid answer to the question of whether 54 letters from Tory MPs – the threshold for triggering a vote of confidence in the PM – will go in or not. Rather, the Tory party will be stuck in stasis.