Boris Johnson has found himself in an increasingly precarious situation, forced to navigate claims about the alleged rule-breaking parties and an impending police investigation. A series of missteps have landed him in hot water with senior Conservatives, putting his post as PM and party leader in jeopardy as they mull a no-confidence vote. That potential vote is one of five challenges before him, each of which could unseat him alone.
The Sue Gray report
Sue Gray’s findings remain under wraps, despite reports that her investigation is en route to Mr Johnson’s office.
Daily Mirror online political editor Dan Bloom revealed that as of January 27 at 3.30pm, it had still not arrived at Downing Street, however.
Investigators are reportedly still discussing what they can publish with the Metropolitan Police.
The PM’s spokesperson said that, when he does finally receive it, he will “probably seek to publish it the following day”.
The findings could prove devastating for Mr Johnson, but he could also escape significant punishment.
If the report finds that he was aware the May 2020 party was not a work gathering, he would have misled Parliament.
During his apology earlier this month, he claimed to have “implicitly” believed the event was for work purposes.
Ministers who mislead the House of Commons are expected to resign, and Sir Keir Starmer has signalled Labour expects Mr Johnson to follow those rules.
READ MORE: Boris Johnson urged to throw staff under bus
The vote of no confidence
If 54 MPs are willing to hand in a letter, the resulting vote of no confidence will require a more significant number for success.
A total of 180 must vote against Mr Johnson to fire him as party leader and trigger a contest for his replacement.
That means another 126 MPs would have to come forward on top of the 54 who handed in letters.
The Tories last held a no-confidence vote against Theresa May in December 2018, from which she emerged unscathed.
A total of 117 voted against her, not enough to overrule her supporting majority of 200.
A Government source has told the Daily Telegraph the Prime Minister is confident he can come out unscathed.
They told the publication that Mr Johnson told dissenting MPs to “bring it on”.
The Metropolitan Police investigation
In a shock twist this week, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick announced an investigation into “potential Covid breaches at Whitehall and Downing Street”.
She told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee that, after receiving information provided by the Cabinet Office inquiry team, officers would start investigating “a number of events”.
She added: “My officers have assessed several other events that appear to have taken place at Downing Street and Whitehall.
“On the available information, these other events are assessed as not reaching the threshold for criminal investigation.
“Throughout the pandemic the Met has sought, as I have said, to take a proportionate approach.
“I should stress the fact that the Met is investigating does not mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved.”
Speaking to The Guardian, one MP called the investigation announcement “absolutely nuclear”, signalling another challenge for Mr Johnson.
The Prime Minister could conceivably survive every one of the above challenges to his leadership.
But the damage to his and the Conservative Party’s reputation would likely endure.
A polling chasm has opened up between the Tories and Labour, with the latter party nearly 10 points ahead.
The latest estimations from polling aggregation by Politico on January 25 show that 40 percent of Britons would vote for Labour and 33 percent for the Conservatives.
At the same time, Mr Johnson’s approval rating is nearing rock bottom.
The vast majority of people feel he is doing a poor job in office, according to YouGov.
Of the 3,326 adults quizzed by the pollsters, 73 percent disapproved of him as of January 17.
Only 22 percent believe he is doing well, while the remaining five percent of Britons are undecided.
While he could survive the latest challenges to his leadership, voters may decide to boot him out of office during the next election, costing the Conservatives where they might have won with another leader.