Hello. As a Today reporter said this morning, it’s Grayja vu. We are still awaiting senior civil servant Sue Gray’s report on partygate which could determine whether or not Boris Johnson can remain Prime Minister. Earlier this morning it still hadn’t been formally submitted to No 10. Johnson says he wants to release it soon after receiving it and also make a statement to MPs, and it’s possible that will happen. produce today. But many MPs are not in Westminster. Business is light, with a debate on Holocaust Memorial Day, and Tory MPs are on a one-line whip, meaning they don’t have to attend. like the telegraph Christopher Hope reports, a postponement until next week seems increasingly possible.
Therese Coffey, the secretary for work and pensions, was interviewing this morning. When asked when the Gray report would be released, she replied, “I really don’t know.”
Boris Johnson is always trying to build support among Tory MPs, and I’ll talk about that later. But in interviews last night, at least one new line emerged: Ministers say that, even if Johnson is questioned by police on bail, he would not have to resign.
When Tony Blair was prime minister and the police wanted to question him about the money for honors case, he let them know that if they questioned him carefully (i.e. as a suspect and not as a witness), he felt compelled to resign. The police stepped back and interrogated him without warning him first. (As it happens, no one has been charged.) If Blair thought he was setting a precedent, it’s not one Johnson intends to follow. In an interview on Channel 4 News last night Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, asked if Johnson would resign if police felt the need to read him his rights before taking a statement from him on partygate. Rees-Mogg replied:
No, of course it wouldn’t be a matter of resignation because people are innocent until proven guilty in this country. And it’s worth bearing in mind that the police themselves have said that just because they’re investigating something doesn’t necessarily mean a crime has been committed. They investigate because that’s what the police do.
(Rees-Mogg was wrong about that. On Tuesday, Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said police were only investigating these lockdown incidents ‘after the fact’ because they appeared to be breaches” serious and egregious” rules. and there seemed to be no “reasonable defense”.)
And later, on ITV’s Peston, Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, was also asked if being questioned on bail would be a matter of resignation for the prime minister. He replied, “No, I wouldn’t go that far.” He also hinted that the cash for honors was a bigger scandal, saying it raised “very serious questions about ownership and ethics”.
Here is the program for the day.
9:30 a.m.: Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary, delivers a speech at the annual advertising industry conference.
After 10:30 a.m.: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, answers questions in the Commons on next week’s business.
11:30 a.m.: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
12 p.m.: Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, answers questions from MSPs.
I may cover some UK Covid developments here, but there’s more on our global live blog, including details of this morning’s announcement that restrictions on visits to people in the care homes in England will be relaxed from Monday.
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