o10 is bracing itself for Sue Gray’s full partygate report, which could be published on Wednesday.
The senior civil servant’s report is expected to be heavily critical of the culture in No 10, which led to repeated violations of Covid restrictions.
Further revelations in recent days about gatherings held in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns have mounted pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson/
Images obtained by ITV appeared to show Mr Johnson raising a toast at a gathering held to mark the departure of former spin doctor Lee Cain on November 13.
Meanwhile, the Mirror published a picture showing a man standing at a table with bottles of alcohol, allegedly taken at a gathering for Mr Johnson’s former official spokesman James Slack on November 17.
Downing Street promised to make the findings public, with a press conference expected after the publication of the report.
Follow live updates below.
Head of civil service to bear ‘ultimate responsibility’ for partygate, according to reports
Among those bracing themselves for the publication of Sue Gray’s partygate report is head of the civil service, Simon Case.
The Cabinet secretary will come under significant pressure to resign this week, according to reports.
“Stinging criticism” will be levelled towards him in Sue Gray’s report, the Telegraph reported earlier this week.
Sources told the newspaper that Mr Case will face significant scrutiny over his leadership and conduct during his tenure in Downing Street, and that the final report “will be brutal”.
‘We may hear more’ about support package for cost of living crisis ‘this week’
Cabinet minister George Eustice suggested a fresh package of support to deal with the rising cost of living would be unveiled within days.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is thought to be finalising a package which could be unveiled this week as the Government attempts to move on from the partygate row.
“My understanding is that he (the Chancellor) is looking at things and we may hear more this week,” the Environment Secretary said.
Mr Eustice told LBC: “We are treading a very difficult path here because if we just borrow lots more money and throw it at the situation we could compound inflation, we could make the situation worse and see prices rise further.
“So we have got to try to dampen that inflation and that means showing some restraint but, equally, helping people, particularly those on the lowest incomes, who will struggle with some of these price rises.”
PM ‘acknowledges’ public anger over partygate, says George Eustice
Cabinet minister George Eustice has said he recognises the public anger over one instance which saw Downing Street staff sleep on No 10 sofas following gatherings at a time when people could not attend loved ones’ funerals.
The environment secretary told Sky News: “It’s not just the optics, it’s understandable that people will feel anger because there were instances, yes, where people couldn’t attend funerals of close friends, couldn’t visit loved ones.
“Of course, we absolutely recognise that, the Prime Minister recognises that, that’s why he has apologised for the failings in No 10 and for his own part in that.”
Mr Johnson “absolutely acknowledges just how angry people will feel and completely gets that and has apologised for that”.
George Eustice: Line was blurred between ‘what was acceptable and what wasn’t’
A Cabinet minister has acknowledged that the line between work and social activity was blurred in No 10 during the coronavirus lockdowns.
As Westminster awaited the publication of Sue Gray’s report on lockdown-busting parties, George Eustice said: “Clearly what happened in No 10 is a culture developed where they were working there, it was their place of work, and there were times when they would have a drink at the end of the day.”
The environment secretary told Times Radio: “That boundary between what was acceptable and what wasn’t got blurred and that was a mistake and Sue Gray highlighted that in her first interim report and I think she is almost certainly going to say more about that when her final report comes out.
“The Prime Minister himself has accepted that and recognises there were of course failings and therefore there’s got to be some changes to the way the place is run.”
What did Sue Gray’s initial report say?
Senior civil servant Sue Gray released her initial findings earlier this year.
Her much-awaited first report into lockdown parties in Downing Street was released in January, although in a heavily redacted form.
She stripped back details of her findings until a Metropolitan Police probe had concluded.
The first report was just nine pages long, and outlined 16 events, 12 of which were investigated by Scotland Yard.
The report makes clear that following the Met’s request not to publish details of events Scotland Yard were investigating, Ms Gray was “extremely limited” in what she could say.
“It’s not possible at present to provide a meaningful report setting out and analysing the extensive factual information I have been able to gather,” she said.
However, she did found there were “failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times”.
Some events “should not have been allowed to take place” at all, while others “should not have been allowed to develop as they did”, the report found.
It stated: “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.”
In her conclusion, Ms Grey found there is “significant learning to be drawn” from the events which must be “addressed immediately across Government”.
The report stated: “This does not need to wait for the police investigations to be concluded.”
Welcome to the Standard’s politics live blog, on what looks to be a momentous day in Westminster.
The full report by civil servant Sue Gray into lockdown parties in Whitehall during lockdowns is expected to be published later today.
We could hear about it as early as 12.30pm – directly after Prime Minister’s Questions – during which Boris Johnson is set to address MPs in the Commons.
However, Downing Street has said timings could slip, depending on when they receive the report, which is due to be handed over sometime this morning.
The Prime Minister will also front a Downing Street news conference and face the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories later on Wednesday.
We will be bringing you live updates as soon as we’ve got them, so stay tuned…