New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
  2. Conservatives
31 January 2022updated 01 Feb 2022 3:30pm

It’s not Sue Gray or the Met keeping Boris Johnson in power

Tory MPs’ doubts over Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are protecting the Prime Minister.

By Stephen Bush

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Sue Gray’s report into alleged lockdown breaches in Downing Street is due to be published later today, with most references to the eight events being investigated by the Metropolitan Police removed.  

An escape for Boris Johnson, thanks to the Metropolitan Police? Not really: it’s an escape for Boris Johnson thanks to the Conservative Party. The most important story from Sue Gray’s report is one that we all already know: that the Cabinet Office’s investigation into whether there were lockdown breaches in Downing Street uncovered sufficiently serious evidence that it had to report it to the police.  

Back when I was selling books, if we had cornered a shoplifter, checked the CCTV and decided we needed to call the police, we wouldn’t have felt it necessary to have an all-staff viewing party or to wait for the magistrate to report back in order to bar the shoplifter in future. Similarly, most Conservative MPs know that the moment at which they could have brought about a change of leadership has already passed. 

The most important shift in the last few weeks hasn’t been that large numbers of constituents have stopped emailing MPs (though there is now less pressure on MPs’ inboxes) or that Downing Street’s parliamentary operation is better organised (though it is, albeit from a very low base). It’s that Conservative MPs have doubts about the other leadership options on display: they aren’t convinced their preferred candidate could get past the party membership, or they worry that Rishi Sunak isn’t the finished article yet, or they think Liz Truss is too ideological to win an election.  

It’s that uncertainty about who will replace the Prime Minister, more than anything Sue Gray might or might not say, that protects Boris Johnson – for now, at least. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors

Topics in this article :