Met Police asks Gray to make “minimal reference” to No 10 parties in report

Elliot Chappell
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The absurdity of partygate knows no bounds. Earlier this week, Tory minister Conor Burns told us that Boris Johnson was “ambushed with a cake“. Last night, however, the same minister told us that this cannot have been the case because – according to the Prime Minister – there was no cake. The problem with this is that according to all other reports, including from 2020, there was a cake and even No 10 has never denied the presence of such a baked good. Meanwhile, the Met has thrown another spanner in the works. In a statement issued today, the police say they only want Sue Gray to make “minimal reference” to Downing Street parties that they are looking into in her report – “to avoid any prejudice to our investigation”. This explains why the Gray report has not yet been published.

The statement is particularly frustrating since one of the main reasons the Gray report became so crucial in the first place was the Met’s initial refusal to investigate alleged Covid rule-breaking in No 10. We now face the prospect of a scaled-back report, as Gray seeks to comply and avoid reference to the infamous cake-no-cake-birthday-work meeting and other alleged rule-breaking bashes held in Downing Street at the height of a pandemic. Johnson would no doubt welcome this. Alternatively, the senior civil servant could wait until after the police have concluded their inquiries before publishing her own report. This could take weeks, however. Either way, a neutered or delayed report is unlikely to sooth public outrage.

Polling continues to reflect that anger. YouGov research for The Times today has Labour ahead again on 38% (-1) and the Tories on 32%, unchanged on last week. The Lib Dems are up three points on 11%, the Greens and Reform UK are each down one point on 7% and 3% respectively. According to the research, only 52% of the people who backed Johnson in the 2019 election are prepared to vote Conservative again while 5% would now back Labour and 4% the Lib Dems. All polling is to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially this far from an election. But the data suggests that Johnson has wrecked the coalition he forged in the fire of Brexit. And all for some parties – one of which may, or may not, have featured a cake.

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