Boris Johnson should have gone before a watered-down version of civil servant Sue Gray’s report into parties during lockdown was released on Monday. And he should go afterwards.
The report, which had strictly limited terms of reference, was never going to be the denunciation that Johnson deserves. And it was further blunted by the Metropolitan police’s manoeuvres.
Having commissioned what he hoped would be a whitewash, it’s no surprise Johnson will spin the report as clearing him. It gives the appearance of rigorous examination to camouflage a cover-up. But even then its criticisms should be enough for Johnson to resign.
The report said, “At least some of the gatherings in question represent a serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of government but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time.”
The Tories partied while ordinary people could not visit their dying relatives. They were gathering in their dozens while people were questioned by cops for sitting together on a park bench.
Gray added, “A number of these gatherings should not have been allowed to take place or to develop in the way that they did. There is significant learning to be drawn from these events which must be addressed immediately across government.
“This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”
The Metropolitan Police had made sure that Boris Johnson was given the greatest possible chance to escape from his lies and hypocrisy. This is what the establishment rallying round its own looks like.
Last week the Met said Gray’s inquiry could be published only if it held back anything but “minimal” mention of alleged criminal events.
That’s why Gray said, “I am extremely limited in what I can say about those events and it is not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather.”
If an event broke no rules, the Met was quite content for everyone to read about it. But if the gathering might have broken the law, then it had to be cut from anything made public until criminal investigations are complete. That might take months.
The Met, and in particular its head Cressida Dick, has gone through tortuous attempts to avoid nailing Johnson. This is not some frivolous story about cakes and whether Johnson and his mates sang Abba songs after chief adviser Dominic Cummings was pushed out. It is about whether the prime minister has committed criminal offences.
Instead of half-hearted and blocked investigations he should be facing prosecution—and removal from Number 10.
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