Local elections: Conservatives could face hung parliament
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Local election counting hasn’t finished yet, but the picture is already bleak for the Tories, who have lost nearly 400 seats across England, Scotland and Wales. The damage done to the Conservatives will prove difficult to shake off and local party campaigners have already called for Boris Johnson’s resignation as they identify partygate as a key catalyst for their losses. Those calls will likely intensify in the weeks to come as the Prime Minister expects further fallout from his recent political controversy.
The Metropolitan Police, which launched an official investigation into alleged Covid rule-breaking gatherings at Number 10, announced before the local elections that it would stop communicating.
In a statement, the police service said it would not publicly identify individuals it has fined as a result of its investigations.
A spokesperson told the Guardian that, while the investigations would continue, “restrictions around communicating” prevented it from announcing further updates until May 5.
Now that deadline has passed, the public is anticipating news of additional fines.
The Prime Minister may be among those stung with a second, third and potentially a fourth fixed penalty notice.
Insiders close to Number 10 have suggested that he could be stung by an additional three fines.
One called the lull following Easter the “calm before the potential storm”, as the police launched investigations into three other events.
Mr Johnson is said to have attended rule-breaking gatherings at a summer party during the height of lockdown in May 2020, a November event in his flat when Dominic Cummings left the Government, and a leaving do for former aide Lee Cain.
Should the Prime Minister make it through these investigations unscathed, he has another potential firestorm on the horizon in the Sue Gray report.
Ms Gray, a senior civil servant, was responsible for Number 10’s internal investigations into partygate and is said to have detailed a comprehensive account of the events.
She is yet to complete her report and was unable to release the exhaustive findings by the ongoing Metropolitan Police inquiry.
But once the police force finishes its investigations, Downing Street has committed to releasing the report in full.
One Downing Street insider said Ms Grey would likely complete her report by “the end of May”.
When released in full it could leave the Prime Minister in an even more severe position.
Another insider told the Times that it could force Mr Johnson to resign; a move he has resisted for months.
The source said the report was “excoriating” and would “make things incredibly difficult for the Prime Minister”.
They added: “No official has ever been in a position like this before.”
Mr Johnson could end up being ejected by the Conservative Party before then, as MPs have the power to launch a vote of no confidence.
Only the party’s Parliamentary 1922 Committee can launch the proceedings, and not until it has received 54 letters.
Letter submissions are confidential, and while reports suggest several MPs have provided them, there is no official number yet.
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