Latest on Boris Johnson 'Partygate' probe report

By Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 2125 GMT (0525 HKT) January 31, 2022
31 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:39 p.m. ET, January 31, 2022

UK PM Johnson will publish any updates to Sue Gray's report after police investigation concludes  

From CNN's Max Foster and Niamh Kennedy in London  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask senior civil servant Sue Gray to update her report once a police investigation has concluded and will publish that update, a spokesperson for Johnson said in a statement.

The Metropolitan Police said earlier that it is currently investigating eight of the 12 parties at Downing Street considered in the Sue Gray report. 

The Downing Street statement said that it "would not be appropriate to comment further while the Met’s investigation is ongoing."

“But, at the end of the process, the Prime Minister will ask Sue Gray to update her work in light of what is found. He will publish that update," the spokesperson added.

The Prime Minister emphasized that "we must not judge an ongoing investigation," his spokesperson said, adding that his focus is on "addressing the general findings” of Monday's report.  

12:20 p.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Police investigating "Partygate" have been handed more than 300 photos

Police investigating parties at Downing Street have been given more than 300 photos and 500 pieces of paper, Metropolitan Police Commander Catherine Roper said, according to PA Media.

Officers are probing at least 12 events, according to Sue Gray's report.

"If following an investigation, officers believe it is appropriate, because the Covid regulations have been breached without a reasonable excuse, a fixed penalty notice would normally be issued," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

"Once the penalty is paid, the matter is considered closed. Alternatively individuals may decide to dispute the notice. In these circumstances officers will consider whether to pursue the matter in a magistrates' court," the statement continues.

CNN’s Max Foster contributed reporting to this post.

11:36 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Analysis: Why lockdown parties in Downing Street are such a big deal

Analysis from CNN's Rob Picheta in London

Reports of parties in the heart of Britain's government have sparked fury in the country for weeks -- and that outrage peaked on Monday, when an official report returned damning findings.

Some aspects of the parties, which have been splashed across front pages since the beginning of December, might seem trivial or even amusing.

Garden parties. DJs. Suitcases full of alcohol. Staff playing on a swing erected for the Prime Minister's infant child.

But the allegations matter not so much because of what took place, but when.

Boris Johnson's government imposed the strictest peacetime restrictions on British people that any have ever seen. For months, people could not see their family members -- even outside, from a distance. They could leave their homes once a day; life events like weddings were put on hold.

Most difficult of all, people were banned from visiting family members as they died with Covid-19 in hospital. Even funerals were limited to immediate family, and attendees could not hug each other as they mourned.

It was a hardship endured by many: the UK has seen more than 150,000 deaths since the pandemic began, more than anywhere else in Europe.

So when it came to light that Johnson and his staff had attended gatherings while imposing such strict rules on the British public, it struck a chord with the British public that has destroyed the government's standing in opinion polls and left Johnson within an inch of his political life.

Deepening the scandal was Johnson's many responses on the matter. At first, in early December, he denied that a party had taken place in Downing Street and insisted that all guidance was followed. Just eight weeks later, 12 parties are under police investigation and a report has condemned his leadership.

Fewer than one in four (23%) of British adults now say Johnson has what it takes to be a good prime minister, while two out of three (64%) say he does not, a new Ipsos Mori poll released Monday found. 

Johnson’s rating on the question has fallen to its lowest level in Ipsos Mori polling since he won a landslide election in 2019.

Even during 2021, when Johnson's government enjoyed popularity on the back of a successful vaccine rollout, the Prime Minister came under criticism for the view that his government followed one rule while the public followed another.

The past two months have made it even harder for Johnson to refute that claim -- and threaten to wreck public trust in his government.

11:30 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Analysis: A ferocious, undignified hour in British politics

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee in London

Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds to his statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report on January 31.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson listens as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer responds to his statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report on January 31. (House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson opened his statement in the House of Commons by saying “sorry."

He said he was sorry for the things that he and his government “simply didn’t get right." He said it is no use defending what happened in Downing Street as “within the rules." He said he will make changes to the Downing Street operation and that he understood the anger felt by members of the public.

Then he went on the offensive.

He told lawmakers that “yes, we can be trusted.” He listed what he perceived were his achievements, among them getting Brexit done, delivering a vaccine rollout faster than anywhere in Europe.

Then things got very ugly.

Leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, said that Johnson was a man who had throughout his life “damaged everything and everyone around him."

Johnson responded by attacking Starmer’s time as Director of Public Prosecution, saying that he had failed to prosecute Britain’s most notorious paedophile.

Ian Blackford, leader of the Scottish National Party, was thrown from the House for calling the Prime Minister a liar.

Members of his own party publicly withdrew their support for the Prime Minister.

Johnson has historically been rewarded whenever he takes a bullish, aggressive line against his opponents. However, this time might be different.

Government advisors are seriously worried that Johnson’s non-apology will not come across to the public as a man who understands what has gone wrong, but a callous man who is more interested in clinging to power than being held responsible.

It’s been a ferocious, undignified hour in British politics. Previous occasions where debate has reached such anger have been on matters of war and peace; life and death.

Ahead of his statement, Conservative sources said Johnson’s fate would rest on the balance between contrition and kicking the can.

As things stand, the Prime Minister has spent significantly more time attacking his opponents and boasting about his successes in office than apologizing for an offence that could still bring down his government.

11:09 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Johnson struggles to bat back angry MPs

Boris Johnson is responding to angry questions by MPs by saying they must continue to wait for the findings of an ongoing police investigation -- a defensive line that follows weeks of claiming they must wait for Sue Gray to report her conclusions.

He is being met with loud jeers every time he resorts to that defence.

"The Prime Minister thinks this is fine. So just how bad do things have to be before he takes personal responsibility, does what everybody in this country wants him to do, and resign?" Labour MP Angela Eagle asked.

11:07 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Conservative backbencher says he can't support Boris Johnson any more

Boris Johnson is being lambasted from all sides in Parliament, as he bats back furious interventions from MPs.

Andrew Mitchell, a Conservative backbencher, was intensely critical of Johnson and said "he no longer enjoys my support."

Johnson could face a vote of no confidence if enough Tories call for one.

Mitchell's comments followed an angry rebuke from Theresa May, Johnson's predecessor in Downing Street.

11:01 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Boris Johnson misled Parliament, opposition MP says

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford responds to a statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report on January 31.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford responds to a statement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to MPs in the House of Commons on the Sue Gray report on January 31. (House of Commons/PA Images/Getty Images)

Ian Blackford, the leader of the Scottish National Party, accused Johnson of misleading Parliament over a party in his Downing Street apartment -- causing a brief uproar in the Commons, as some Conservatives called for him to be removed from the chamber.

Blackford said "nobody believed" Johnson's denials that he knowingly attended a garden party.

He said he has "wilfully misled Parliament" -- but amended the word to "inadvertently" after the Speaker intervened.

"This murky business is tainting everything around it," Blackford said.

10:55 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Johnson's predecessor Theresa May skewers Prime Minister in Parliament

Theresa May, whom Boris Johnson replaced as Prime Minister, criticized Johnson in the wake of the Gray report.

She told lawmakers that Johnson "imposed significant restrictions on freedoms" of British citizens.

"They had a right to expect their Prime Minister to have read the rules, to understand the meaning of the rules," she said.

She told the House: "Either (Johnson) had not read the rules, or didn’t understand what they meant, or they didn’t think the rules applied to Number 10. Which was it?"

10:55 a.m. ET, January 31, 2022

Starmer calls on Tories to oust Johnson

Responding to Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer condemned “the bonfire that is his leadership,” and called on Conservative lawmakers to “spare the country” by removing him.

Johnson attacked Starmer for discussing a police investigation, and pivoted again to discussing the Ukraine border crisis and his government's Brexit policy.

"I have complete confidence in the police … I don’t propose to offer any more commentary about it," Johnson said.