The government’s tactics have backfired. While legally unable to contain any smoking guns, Sue Gray’s update carried the whiff of cordite. Even that could still prove fatal for Boris Johnson.
Gray was still able to include stinging criticism of No.10 and the Cabinet Office (“failures of leadership and judgement”) and coded indignation at the way she was asked to produce a whitewashed version of her report, together with a reference to the “extensive factual information” to follow.
This is a bad day for the prime minister, which apologies, bluster and a quick reshuffle of processes and faceless members of Downing Street staff will not cover. The intervention by Theresa May was bad for Johnson, too. But much worse is to come.
He, his family, his friends and colleagues are the subject of police inquiries. The Met are also investigating a party in his own flat – a party which he has denied in the Commons even took place. Officers have been handed a cache of over 300 photographs from Downing Street; presumably not holiday snaps.
The saga will now drag on until the investigation concludes and Gray’s full report is published. Conservative MPs have it in their power to bring one part of it to an end. But will they dare?