Minister Says Boris Johnson "Completely Gets" Public Anger Over Partygate As He Braces For Gray Report
A Cabinet minister has said Boris Johnson "completely gets" how angry people will feel about the findings of the Sue Gray report as Downing Street braces for it to be published today.
Environment Secretary George Eustice insisted the prime minister "absolutely acknowledges" the level of the public fury over parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown.
Downing Street is expected to publish the highly-anticipated report in the coming hours after receiving it from senior civil servant Gray, who has spent weeks investigating the rule-breaking events.
If the report is published this morning, the prime minister is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons, before delivering a TV address to the nation. He is also expected to address Conservative MPs at a meeting of the party's 1922 Committee.
The report, which was delayed by a Met Police investigation into the rule-breaking parties, is expected to be highly-critical of Johnson's leadership and the behaviour of government officials.
Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who were both fined by the Met for their involvement, are expected to appear in pictures published as part of Gray's report, according to ITV, as well as Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Eustice suggested that the prime minister would show contrition when he addresses parliament and the public once the report has been published.
"It is understandable that people will feel anger because there were instances were people couldn't attend funerals of close friends and couldn't visit loved ones," the minister said.
"Of course we absolutely recognise that and the prime minister absolutely recognises that. That's why he has apologised for the failings of n10 and for his own part in that".
Eustice added: "He's come to the despatch box several times in parliament to apologise.
"He's paid that Fixed Penalty Notice.
"He absolutely acknowledges just how angry people will feel and completely gets that and has apologised for that".
There are expected to be fresh questions over Johnson's leadership once the report is published.
PoliticsHome reported last night that numerous Conservative MPs had their "pens poised" and had been consulting colleagues about sending letters of no confidence to Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee.
Senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, who leads the foreign affairs select committee, on Tuesday said he was "talking to colleagues" about whether they should attempt to force Johnson out and that the Tory party needed "to focus on who is going to lead us into the future".
An imaged leaked to ITV on Monday showing Johnson drinking wine and raising a toast a leaving do for his former director of communications on 13 November 2021 has prompted allegations that the prime minister misled the House of Commons late last year when he appeared to state there was no party in Downing Street on that date.
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