On April 19, 2022, a handout picture released by the UK Parliament shows Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson apologizing to MPs for the partygate fine in the House of Commons, London. JESSICA TAYLOR UK PARLIAMENT AFP The long-awaited independent report into lockdown regulation breaches at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street residence is so critical of his involvement in the so-called Partygate affair that senior government officials said he will have no choice but to step down as leader of the country when it comes out, the Times newspaper reported.
In December of last year, top civil servant Simon Case relinquished control of the inquiry into social gatherings after it emerged that one of the events had taken place in his own office.
The job was handed over to another high-ranking official, Sue Gray, but her findings won't be made public until a police inquiry into the same incidents is complete. A third inquiry, into whether Johnson misled Parliament over the rule-breaking, was announced last week.
Since Gray was tasked with the inquiry, Johnson's supporters have defended him by saying that any judgment would be inappropriate until her report is published, and it is still not yet clear when that will be. An unnamed official told The Times that the findings are damning for Johnson.
ALSO READ: UK PM to be probed over 'Partygate'
The prime minister's office said that it would make things incredibly difficult for him. There is an immense amount of pressure on her report that could be enough to end him. No official has been in a position like this before. Johnson is known to have attended six of 12 Downing Street gatherings being looked at by the Metropolitan Police, and has already been served with a fixed penalty notice over a get-together for his 56th birthday in June 2020, which happened at a time when people were unable to say goodbye to loved ones or attend funerals because of the Pandemic lockdown restrictions.
The Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said his party could not pass over the fact that Johnson, as well as Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak, had been fined for breaking the law.
Starmer said they were found to have broken the law, the criminal law at that. No other prime minister in the history of our country has ever broken the law. The partygate dominated British politics until the end of last year, with Johnson facing heavy criticism from within the Conservative Party before the Russia-Ukraine conflict took priority.
With local elections coming up, which will also serve as a measure of the government's popularity, a poor showing by the Conservatives could encourage many of Johnson's critics to rediscover their voices.
READ MORE: UK PM apologizes to Parliament over lockdown breaches.
The Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden has rejected the suggestion that Johnson should go.