The crucial report into Downing Street parties looks unlikely to be published today, after No 10 announced that Boris Johnson has left London for a visit to north Wales.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said that the PM had not received any advice from Sue Gray’s investigation team to suggest that the report would not be handed over today.
But his decision to leave the capital for a trip to a quarry at Penmaenmawr, near Llandudno, strongly suggests he is not expecting to have to publish the findings and make a statement to MPs on Thursday.
It is understood that the final sign-off of the Whitehall mandarin’s eagerly-awaited report has been delayed by Metropolitan Police demands that nothing should be made public which might cut across its separate criminal investigation into alleged breaches of Covid regulations at No 10.
Many in Westminster now expect that the report will not surface until Monday at the earliest.
Ms Gray will present her report to the PM when it is ready, and Mr Johnson has promised to publish findings within hours, before making a statement to MPs and taking questions.
Any indication that Ms Gray has found Mr Johnson responsible for lockdown beaches is likely to prompt a wave of letters of no-confidence from Tory MPs, pushing the total past the threshold of 54 required for a vote on his future.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said that the PM’s Welsh visit was intended to promote government policies on jobs and business growth and should not be taken as an indication that he had been informed that the Gray report will not come today.
“We haven’t been told anything specific about timing,” said the PM’s spokesperson.
“It remains hypothetically feasible for the report to be published today, but it’s important that the business of government continues.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said that the prime minister has not yet been interviewed by police for the inquiry announced by Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick on Tuesday.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has said there would be no need for Mr Johnson to resign even if he was interviewed under caution as a suspect in the inquiry. But Downing Street refused to discuss the issue, branding it “hypothetical”.