Good morning. As one journalist on the Today programme put it this morning, it’s Grayja vu. We’re still waiting for the report from senior civil 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 formally been 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 attraction, and Tory MPs are on a one-line whip, which means they don’t have to attend. As the Telegraph’s Christopher Hope reports, a delay until next week is looking increasingly possible.
Thérèse 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 don’t know.”
Boris Johnson is still trying hard to shore up support amongst 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 wouldn’t 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 doesn’t 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 ITV’s 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 honours 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 industry’s annual conference.
After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, takes questions in the Commons on next week’s business.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s 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 morning’s announcement that restrictions on visiting people in care homes in England will be eased from Monday.
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Read More: Boris Johnson ‘will not have to resign’ if police interview him under caution – UK