Partygate: Boris Johnson looks safe - at least for now

Sue Gray's report is so convincing that you can smell the alcohol consumed at these government parties during lockdown.

Partygate: Boris Johnson looks safe - at least for now

Sue Gray's report is so convincing that you can smell the alcohol consumed at these government parties during lockdown.

Here are the details:

This kind of behavior is not common in many workplaces, even at normal hours.

Remember, this happened during a pandemic.

Ms Gray revealed that emails and WhatsApp messages showed it was obvious at the time that something was wrong.

Martin Reynolds, the prime minister's principal personal secretary, said that "we seem to have gotten away with" it. It turns out that he didn’t.

Boris Johnson hired this senior advisor to help him judge.

On Wednesday, Alex Chisholm (chief operating officer of the civil service) and Simon Case (cabinet secretary) wrote to civil servants. They were unable to continue the investigation that Ms Gray was ultimately conducting because there had been a party at his office.

Mr. Case had made it clear earlier that he was not resigning, and that he hadn't been fired.

He and Mr Chisholm discuss in their letter taking the time to "reflect on the report in its entirety and consider the issues [the Gray Report] has highlighted". They also mention that steps have been taken to strengthen corporate leadership at the Cabinet Office as well as No 10.

Some civil servants expressed shock at the "tone-deafness" of the communication.

What does this all mean for Mr. Johnson?

He apologized and pointedly explained why he did not believe he had knowingly misled the Commons with his previous accounts.

This is vital because if he was proven to have deliberately lied to the House, it would result in him losing his job.

The prime minister said that he did not believe that he had done anything wrong at that time and was therefore not subject to a fine from police.

He said that he was right to drop in at various leaving dos even though police fines would indicate that many of them were directly against the Covid laws he championed.

Although Mr Johnson apologized to Conservative MPs in private at a meeting for his actions, there is anger and embarrassment among many Tory members over the incident. They are aware that much of what happened cannot be excused or forgotten.

They have the collective power to decide whether he stays and/or goes.

A 17th Tory MP has publicly declared that Mr Johnson should be resigned; others have privately demanded the same.

However, the majority of people who criticize Johnson today are those who have long condemned his behavior. It would take 54 to declare a lack confidence in Johnson to trigger a vote for Johnson's leadership.

Here's a peek at some texts I received from Conservative MPs. They are private reflections on what is happening and how they feel about the mood among their colleagues.

One says that Gray was not the bombshell PMs detractors wanted. "Think Gray's photos in the report look less like parties than they appear," one says.

Another comment: "Yes, he'll survive." He performed well in the chamber.

"It doesn’t really tell us anything new incriminating. One says that he senses a general lack of interest to be truthful.

One backbencher was asked if the PM was safe and he replied: "In my opinion, yes."

Many cabinet ministers have publicly affirmed their loyalty to the prime minster.

One of them said that the drip-drip revelations over recent months had become "very tedious", and that they didn't believe it would affect Boris anymore.

His supporters are also delighted that "no longer is a prince over water", as one senior figure explained to me. In other words, there is an apparent heir apparent. This was in reference to the awkward headlines that appeared recently about the chancellor's wife's tax bill.

Other Tory MPs worry that the view of the prime Minister has been set too early by events, and that it will be very difficult to win a general election.

It will take time for views to become solidified. Two upcoming by-elections in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and Tiverton, Devon might help.

Boris Johnson appears to be safe, at least for the moment.

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