Downing Street parties: Boris Johnson does not yet have Sue Gray’s report, says Liz Truss – live | Politics

Date: 2022-01-26T08:49:52.000Z

Location: www.theguardian.com

Boris Johnson does not yet have Sue Gray’s report, says Liz Truss

Good morning. The much-awaited report from the civil servant Sue Gray into partygate - which has joined the small and select group of official Whitehall reports in history seen as having the potential to end a prime minister’s career - may be published later today. Or it may not come until tomorrow. As I write, to the immense frustration of the Westminster political-media establishment, and many others, no one actually knows. Sorry about that.

But we do know that the report has not yet officially been handed over to Downing Street, because Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has said so her morning interview round. Asked if No 10 had yet to receive it, she told Sky News within the last hour:

That’s correct. And, of course, it’s an independent report, it’s a matter for Sue Gray when she sends that report, when she’s completed her work.

Truss also said that “security issues” might prevent parts of the report from being published.

We have been absolutely clear that we will publish the findings of the report. We don’t know the content of the report, so there could be, for example, security issues that mean parts of it are problematic to publish. But we will absolutely publish the findings of the report.

Boris Johnson has indicated that he will publish the report very soon after receiving it, and make a statement about it to the Commons. The fact that it is still not yet on his desk means that such a statement is extremely unlikely to happen straight after PMQs, although potentially he could come back to parliament later. Or he could wait until tomorrow.

Once the report is out, and particularly if it is anything like as damning as some commentators suggest, Conservative MPs who have been holding back from demanding a vote of no confidence in the prime minister could submit the necessary letters to the 1922 Committee chairman, Sir Graham Brady. There is a very real chance of that vote happening before the end of the week.

Today I will be focusing almost exclusively on this story.

Here is our overnight preview.

And here is my colleague Heather Stewart’s guide to the key questions the Gray report could answer.

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 I’m more likely to find it. I do try to holdinanswer 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. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

Updated

Why Rees-Mogg thinks move to 'presidential system' means new PM would have to call election

In her Today interview Liz Truss was asked about something Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said on Newsnight last night. The very fact that Rees-Mogg was on Newsnight was notable in itself. For much of his cabinet career No 10 would not let him anywhere near big, mainstream broadcast interviews, because he was seen as too much of a liability. But enthusiastic supporers of Boris Johnson are in short supply in the government, and Rees-Mogg has now been on Newsnight twice within a fortnight. His first appearance saw him calling the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, “a lightweight” (Ross has called for Johnson to resign), a comment that offended not just Ross, but much of Scotland.

Last night Rees-Mogg used his interview to advance an interesting, but novel, constitutional theory. Johnson’s acolytes in the Conservative party are telling MPs that, if they vote to replace him, the new prime minister will be obliged to call a general election - a prospect that should be unappealing to Tories with the party well behind in the polls (by eight points, according to this one from yesterday). Technically, this is untrue. Within the last 40 years, John Major, Gordon Brown and Theresa May all became prime minister without feeling the need to call a swift election. But Rees-Mogg told the Newsnight:

It is my view that we’ve moved, for better or worse, to essentially a presidential system, and therefore the mandate is personal rather than entirely party, and any PM would be very well advised to seek a fresh mandate. Gordon Brown didn’t and that didn’t work; Boris Johnson did and that did work.

I think the days of Macmillan taking over from Eden or even Callaghan taking from Wilson no longer get the mood of the constitution and our constitution evolves. So I my view a change of leader requires a general election.

This may come as a surprise to those who thought people like Rees-Mogg favoured Brexit because it would restore the primacy of parliament, not a president.

The historian Robert Saunders has an interesting Twitter thread on Rees-Mogg’s argument starting here.

Q: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons, said last night that if Boris Johnson were replaced, there would have to be a general election. Do you agree?

That is completely hypothetical, Truss says.

Q: MPs are talking about you becoming the next Tory leader. Is that your ambition?

Truss says she wants Johnson to continue in his job. “He is doing a great job, I support him 100%,” she says.

And that’s it.

The Truss interview is moving on to partygate.

Q: How serious is the police investigation?

Truss says they are awaiting the Sue Gray report. She does not want to pre-judge that. “I suspect we won’t have much longer to wait.”

Q: But we know what the Met police commissioner said. She said the evidence met the threshold for “the most serious and flagrant” breach of the rules.

Truss says it is best to wait for the investigation.

Only once the evidence has been examined can the police come to a decision.

Q: Was the PM blind to this when he told the Commons repeatedly he had no evidence of rule breaking.

Truss says she does not know what happened.

Q: Do you take him at his word when he says no rules were broken?

Truss says she takes him at his word.

Q: Would he have to resign if fined? Some people say this would be no more serious than a speeding fine.

Truss says she won’t answer a hypothetical question.

Q: Has trust been lost?

Truss says she wants to wait for the full report to see what it says.

The PM has admitted mistakes have been made. “Clearly things will have to be looked.”

Q: You accept political damage has been done?

Truss says the PM himself has said mistakes were made, which implies there will need to be changes.

Martha Kearney is now interviewing Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, on the Today programme now.

They start with Ukraine. Truss says the UK has ruled nothing out in terms of the sanctions it might impose on Russia in the event of an invasion. Sanctions would cover financial institutions and individuals, she says.

In her Sky News interview Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, said she supported Boris Johnson 100%. She said:

The prime minister has appeared before parliament, he has apologised for what has happened. He’s admitted that mistakes were made and I 100% support him, and want him to continue as prime minister.

Boris Johnson does not yet have Sue Gray’s report, says Liz Truss

Good morning. The much-awaited report from the civil servant Sue Gray into partygate - which has joined the small and select group of official Whitehall reports in history seen as having the potential to end a prime minister’s career - may be published later today. Or it may not come until tomorrow. As I write, to the immense frustration of the Westminster political-media establishment, and many others, no one actually knows. Sorry about that.

But we do know that the report has not yet officially been handed over to Downing Street, because Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has said so her morning interview round. Asked if No 10 had yet to receive it, she told Sky News within the last hour:

That’s correct. And, of course, it’s an independent report, it’s a matter for Sue Gray when she sends that report, when she’s completed her work.

Truss also said that “security issues” might prevent parts of the report from being published.

We have been absolutely clear that we will publish the findings of the report. We don’t know the content of the report, so there could be, for example, security issues that mean parts of it are problematic to publish. But we will absolutely publish the findings of the report.

Boris Johnson has indicated that he will publish the report very soon after receiving it, and make a statement about it to the Commons. The fact that it is still not yet on his desk means that such a statement is extremely unlikely to happen straight after PMQs, although potentially he could come back to parliament later. Or he could wait until tomorrow.

Once the report is out, and particularly if it is anything like as damning as some commentators suggest, Conservative MPs who have been holding back from demanding a vote of no confidence in the prime minister could submit the necessary letters to the 1922 Committee chairman, Sir Graham Brady. There is a very real chance of that vote happening before the end of the week.

Today I will be focusing almost exclusively on this story.

Here is our overnight preview.

And here is my colleague Heather Stewart’s guide to the key questions the Gray report could answer.

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 I’m more likely to find it. I do try to holdinanswer 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. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

Updated