Downing Street parties: Scandal isn't going away soon, but neither is Boris Johnson

Westminster is awaiting the Sue Gray report, but MPs are claiming its significance is being exaggerated.

Boris Johnson has been caught, seemingly red-handed, with a series of parties being held at Downing Street.

The Prime Minister attended at least one of them, and has offered excuses so bad he had to go into hiding.

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Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street after attending the weekly Prime Minister's Questions. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Now there is a criminal investigation, with Mr Johnson facing the very real threat of being a Prime Minister being interviewed by police.

Yet despite the number of Tory MPs hoping to oust Mr Johnson growing, there remains a confidence this is yet another scandal the Government can weather, at least in the short term.

Despite having not seen the Gray report and promising not to prejudge it, ministers claim while the Prime Minister may look foolish, the report will not kill of his authority completely.

Instead, Tory MPs hope it will point to a culture of boozing in Downing Street that Mr Johnson did not instigate, and call for reform rather than resignations.

It is important to remember Gray’s report will present facts, rather than recommendations, and Downing Street appears to be gambling on this saving the day.

The report is also crucially not independent, despite Tory suggestions to the contrary, and Ms Gray works for Whitehall, who in turn works for the Government.

As for the current legal investigation, the hope is among MPs the parties being investigated were not those attended by the Prime Minister.

That is not to say it is not damaging. The scandal has hugely hurt Mr Johnson, whose popularity has plummeted along with his party.

But MPs still claim, behind the scenes, he is an asset and electoral dynamite, at least until a better option emerges.

One told me: “Getting rid of the Prime Minister is a guarantee we lose the election next time out.”

MPs went home for the weekend and there were not enough angry constituents to force their hand.

Mr Johnson’s premiership is still hugely at risk and a damning report could be enough for Tory MPs to act.

But until the leadership candidates get themselves together, the belief at least in Westminster is the report will not be enough to end Mr Johnson’ s premiership.

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