Waiting on Gray

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Sue Gray: The Cake Report
Sue Gray: The Cake Report to bring down a PM?

Molly Pollock takes a look through the shenanigans surrounding Sue Gray’s report and the pressures building on Johnson whose life seems to be dominated by cake, from eating cake to still having it and a birthday cake that could bring his government down.

Journalists were saying the Sue Gray report would be published today, but so far no indication of that though Johnson is believed to have received it.

Not good news. Interesting.

As tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day it’s considered unlikely it will be published then, and on Friday it could be published. But the Commons doesn’t usually sit on Fridays so the Prime Minister would have the weekend to prepare for answering questions on the report’s findings, although it would also allow the weekend papers to have a field day.

Big Dog Johnson

Johnson and his supporters have already been busy in studios, newspapers and social media, pushing out stories about how successful he has been: he got the big calls right, got Brexit done, built a world-beating vaccination system, oversaw the fastest growing economy in the G7, lifted Covid restrictions to make us the freest country in the world. Hmmm!

https://fullfact.org/economy/january-2022-gdp-growth-g7/

Just a little crime

Now, with Johnson declaring he has no intention of resigning his supporters are insisting his unintended appearances at parties was only a little crime. Starmer at PMQs reminded the Chamber that the Met only looks into the most serious and flagrant type of breaches and that it was looking into a potentially criminal offence in Downing Street.

On Twitter the person whose goes by The Secret Barrister countered the little crime argument.

Another excuse has emerged. Johnson and his wife apparently believe that the 100 room Downing Street complex comprised their household bubble and that it was fine to mingle with all within it. If this is true, then we have to wonder why we have as a PM a man who is unable to understand the rules and laws he and his government recently made and promoted.

Johnson’s acolytes have ramped up the pressure with Jacob Rees-Mogg unveiling in media interviews that the UK is now effectively a “presidential system” with the party’s mandate being personal (ie due almost entirely to Johnson) rather than entirely party. That doesn’t say much for Rees-Mogg and his fellow MPs. The Twitter reaction to this was predictable with questions as to when Parliament had agreed, and the electorate voted for, such a change. Some also wondered if the Queen had been told of this demotion, to be supplanted by President Johnson.

Rees-Mogg and others are doing the rounds to insitill fear of losing their seats into MPs, insisting that if Johnson has to step down then that will mean a general election. This is of course untrue, as other PMs have been replaced without a general election. The other argument being used is that of the worsening situation with regards to Ukraine. We need strong, experienced leadership at this time to deal with this grave situation, Johnson supporters intone. Lack of leadership, however, is thought by some journalists to be one of the allegations in the Sue Gray report. So why should we continue with someeone lacking such a skill?

Bureaucratic hoops and cast iron assurances

The House of Commons has now adjourned, so no report today. So perhaps it’s useful to relay some of the information given in Tweets by Robert Peston, Political Editor of ITV News and host of the weekly political discussion show Peston. He anticipated the Sue Gray report would be published today but acknowledged that there are bureaucratic hoops to be jumped through before publication. The report would require to be checked by the Met Police to ensure it contains nothing that would prejudice their criminal investigation. It will need to be run past Whitehall human resources as they will deal with any civil servants involved. And government lawyers will be consulted to ensure there are no grounds for legal action. All that takes time. Plus Number 10, for their own reasons, may be anxious to delay publication, as there is said to be no shortage of evidence, with photographs and WhatsApp messages.

Peston believes the Prime Minister has given cast iron assurances to publish the report in full, as Sue Gray wants, and that Downing Street will not play politics with it. But…

Power struggle

Exclusions, if there are any, are likely largely be of explosive detail relevant to the police inquiry, but Peston reckons the report will still be worth reading. Has Peston been privy to some leaked information as he says in a Tweet that the nuanced briefings he is getting increasingly imply a power struggle between Sue Gray and the cabinet office on the one hand and the PM and Downing Street on the other? Rather suggests the PM and Downing Street are not happy with the report’s findings.

Peston reckons Jacob Rees-Mogg’s jugular option of threatening a general election before the report is even published indicates just how damaging the report must be for the PM. It’s not just Johnson’s job on the line, but those of his cabinet, advisers and possibly even civil servants.

The House of Cards is teetering and most think it’s only a matter of time before it comes crashing down.