The heart of government was last night said to be ‘paralysed’ as the wait for the report into the Partygate storm dragged on for another day.
Ministers complained it was growing increasingly difficult to get decisions from No 10 as Boris Johnson and senior officials awaited the outcome of the inquiry by Whitehall ethics chief Sue Gray.
The report, which had been expected yesterday, could still be published today. But last night there were fears it may be delayed until next week.
But last night, the report had still not been submitted to Downing Street, leaving the Prime Minister in limbo and a string of senior officials waiting to learn their fates.
Ministers complained it was growing difficult to get decisions from No 10 as Boris Johnson (pictured) and officials awaited the outcome of the inquiry by Whitehall ethics chief Sue Gray
Downing Street denied that the crisis had led to a go-slow at the heart of government.
Mr Johnson yesterday insisted he was ‘getting on with the job’, pointing to the efforts on Ukraine and the lifting of Covid regulations today.
But one Whitehall source said it was proving impossible to get decisions out of No 10 – or even arrange meetings with the PM to discuss vital issues.
‘No 10 is completely paralysed,’ the source said. ‘There are important meetings that are not happening because the PM is too busy seeing MPs to try and shore up support.
‘Decisions are not being taken because everyone is waiting to learn about their own futures. If it drags on it will be unsustainable.’
Sources said government lawyers were having to go through the report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure it did not prejudice the police inquiry.
The report’s findings were given to the Met Police at the weekend, prompting Dame Cressida Dick (pictured) to launch an investigation into claims that lockdown laws were broken
One source blamed Dame Cressida for the delay and criticised her decision to drop the Met’s previous approach of waiting for Miss Gray’s report to be published before deciding on whether to take action.
Meanwhile, another source suggested the report would have to be ‘significantly toned down’ now that the police probe has been launched, adding: ‘It is very difficult to see how you can publish direct evidence against named people who might be the subject of a police inquiry.’
Downing Street has committed to publishing the report in full within hours of receiving it, with Mr Johnson expected to make an immediate statement.
The PM yesterday confirmed that he might have to resign if the report finds he knowingly misled Parliament over parties in No 10.
He said he was covered by the ministerial code, which makes misleading parliament a resignation issue.
But allies of the PM are confident that although he previously told MPs that ‘rules were followed at all times’, he is not guilty of knowingly misleading the House as that is what he believed to be true at the time.
The steady stream of allegations over alleged breaches of the rules have undermined the Prime Minister and many of his critics are waiting for Miss Gray’s report before deciding whether or not to submit formal letters saying that they have no confidence in his leadership.