Pressure is mounting on the Metropolitan Police from Tory MPs who want the force to investigate the Downing Street lockdown parties, regardless of the findings of the Sue Gray report this week.
Although many MPs have said they are withholding judgment until the outcome of the Gray Inquiry, some believe the details of what is already known to the public are sufficient to warrant police action.
The Met’s position, reiterated again on Saturday, is that it is content to await the outcome of the senior official’s inquiry before deciding whether to investigate if possible criminal offenses are uncovered.
Since news of the First Party emerged, Opposition MPs have called on the Met to investigate, but Tory backbenchers are now also urging the Force to intervene.
Martin Vickers, Tory MP for Cleethorpes since 2010, told his constituents last week that “disciplinary action, and possibly prosecution, should follow”.
“The truth is that none of this should have happened. I despair of the Downing Street management structure that this could happen,” Vickers told the Observer.
He added that Boris Johnson – whose political career hinges on the content of Gray’s report – should have left the notorious Downing Street garden party on May 20, 2020 shortly after arriving.
“Those of us who know how these things work can see how it happened. The staff gathered [in the garden] and someone said, “Go upstairs and see if the boss can come down and give us a pep talk.” When the elderly person arrived, she should have said, “Drink and go home.”
Other Tories have also called for police intervention, with Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, backing a Met investigation into the party’s allegations.
“I want each of these allegations to be fully and independently investigated, if necessary, by the police and I want all those, no matter how important, who have broken the law or government directives to be appropriately punished,” he told voters.
Fellow Tory MP Stephen Crabb also called on Cressida Dick’s Met to “investigate these gatherings”. Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, told voters last week: ‘It makes me feel hugely disappointed and really disappointed.
The Met’s explanation that they rarely retrospectively investigate breaches of the Covid law has raised concern among some, saying it has helped police avoid a contentious episode.
The force, however, could still be drawn into the wider ‘partygate’ fallout after a Tory backbench MP who accused Downing Street of trying to ‘blackmail’ MPs seeking to oust Johnson has confirmed on Saturday that he was due to meet with police to discuss the allegations.
William Wragg said he would speak to a Met detective in the House of Commons this week and had requested a meeting with the force.
However, many believe Gray’s report will not call on the police to investigate the Prime Minister over the Downing Street parties.
“I suspect the report will use words like ‘inappropriate’ and ‘poor judgement’, and Boris can deal with that. The only possibility of him falling is if he says it was against the law. It all depends on the phraseology to a large extent,” Vickers said.
He added that public fury fell short of anger over Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle during the first lockdown of 2020, saying the incident led to 900 emails from voters against 250 on partygate.
Ironically, Cummings, Johnson’s former top aide, made negative headlines about the Prime Minister, saying his former boss lied about the lockdown parties and was also tipped off about the May 20 event.