Good morning. As one journalist on the Today program put it this morning, its Grayja vu. Were still waiting for the report from the senior civilian servant Sue Gray into partygate that could determine whether or not Boris Johnson gets to stay on as prime minister. Earlier this morning it still had not been formally submitted to No 10. Johnson says he wants to publish it soon after he gets it, and make a statement to MPs too, and it is possible that this could happen today. But many MPs are not at Westminster. The business is light, with a debate on Holocaust Memorial Day the main focus, and Tory MPs are on a one-line whip, which means they dont have to attend. As the Telegraphs Christopher Hope reports, a delay until next week is looking increasingly possible.
Thrse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, was on the interview round this morning. Asked when the Gray report would come out, she replied: I genuinely dont know.
Boris Johnson is still trying hard to shore up support among Tory MPs, and I will post more on that later. But in interviews last night at least one new line emerged: ministers say that, even if Johnson were interviewed by the police under caution, he would not have to resign.
When Tony Blair was PM, and the police wanted to interview him about the cash-for-honours affair, he made it known to them that, if they interviewed him under caution (ie, as a suspect, not a witness), he would feel obliged to resign. The police backed off, and interviewed him without cautioning him first. (In the event, no one was charged at all.) If Blair thought he was establishing a precedent, it is not one Johnson intends to follow. In an interview on Channel 4 News last night Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, was asked if Johnson would resign if the police felt the need to read him his rights before taking a statement from him on partygate. Rees-Mogg replied:
No, of course that wouldnt be a resigning matter because people are innocent in this country until proved guilty. And it is worth bearing in mind the police themselves have said that the fact that they are investigating something doesnt mean that any crime has necessarily been committed. They are investigating because that is what the police do.
(Rees-Mogg was wrong about this. On Tuesday Dame Cressida Dick, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, said the police were only investigating these after the fact lockdown incidents because they appeared to be serious and flagrant breaches of the rules and there seemed to be no reasonable defence.)
And later, on ITVs Peston, Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, was also asked if being interviewed under caution would be a resignation matter for the PM. He replied: No I wouldn’t go that far. He also implied cash for honors was a more serious scandal, saying it raised very serious questions about propriety and ethics.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, gives a speech at the advertising industries annual conference.
After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, takes questions in the Commons on next weeks business.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotlands first minister, takes questions from MSPs.
I may cover some UK Covid developments here, but there is more on our global live blog, including details of this mornings ease announcement that restrictions on visiting people in care homes in England will bed from Monday.
I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include Andrew in it somewhere and Im more likely to find it. I do try to hold in answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.
If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. Im on @AndrewSparrow.
Alternatively, you can email me at [email protected]
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