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28 January 2022

The public has already made up its mind about Boris Johnson

Voters aren’t waiting for Sue Gray’s report to be published – they’re waiting for justice.

By Stephen Bush

The Metropolitan Police have asked Sue Gray to remove references to eight incidents that the force is investigating from her report into lockdown-breaking Downing Street parties, in order to avoid prejudicing their inquiries.

Relief for Boris Johnson? That’s the consensus among many Conservatives this morning. It means that Gray’s report will either be further delayed or published missing some of its biggest hits, and the Metropolitan Police’s investigation may not yet conclude that the is sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Just one problem, though: are the British public really waiting for Sue Gray, or indeed for the Metropolitan Police, to tell them whether or not the rules were broken? The evidence from the polls and indeed every focus group I have seen is that the public is pretty clear that rules were broken. What people are waiting for is justice, and what they expect is a cover-up.

The Conservative Party is doing what political parties in trouble often do: mistaking its own rhythms for the heartbeat of the nation. An abandoned investigation and a gutted report would, I’m convinced, combine all the political pain of the Owen Paterson vote with all the discomfort of the last few months.

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