THERE are few certainties in politics but one thing we know for sure is that Boris Johnson has a rough week ahead of him.

How brutal it will be and whether it ends with his political demise is ultimately in the gift of Tory MPs.

But there is no conceivable route through this week for the Prime Minister that doesn’t involve further embarrassment, scorn and personal humiliation.

On the bright side, at least he’s got a fully stocked wine fridge in No 10 that he can hide in whenever he needs to gather his thoughts.

So, what can we expect from what will be a defining week of Boris Johnson’s premiership?

Reports last week suggested that Sue Gray might be ready to share her report into Downing Street’s “partygate” at some point this week.

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Of course, that was before drunken officials heaped more reports of wrongdoing onto her desk. So it may be delayed further. That prospect is unlikely to soothe Boris Johnson’s woes, however.

In recent weeks, we have watched the Tory spin machine splutter and die. It is usually a formidable force in UK politics, but the extent of the evidenced hypocrisy and lies has rendered it useless.

They had hoped that they could take charge of the narrative so that when Sue Gray publishes her report and it doesn’t accuse Boris Johnson of illegality (which it won’t and couldn’t) then the public would absolve him of responsibility and move on.

But – to their credit – opposition parties have been diligent in managing public expectations. Across every media platform and at every opportunity, they have set out exactly what Sue Gray’s report is – a dry, fact-finding mission – and been crystal clear that it is not a judicial process that will determine the guilt or innocence of the Prime Minister.

And regardless, it is clear that the public are not waiting for Sue to tell them what to think.

One thing this scandal has not been short of is evidence. While the Met Police may prefer to let a civil servant investigate on their behalf, voters are more than able to look at the photographs, the emails, the witness statements and the Prime Minister’s own guilty plea and decide that they’ve heard enough.

The polling is clear: the overwhelming majority of people think Boris Johnson is a liar and that he should resign.

What we saw last week was a holding position. While a few Tory MPs set out their position early, most parroted the line that we need to wait for Sue Gray.

I suspect that may change this week – with or without the publication of her report.

Tory MPs spent the weekend back in their constituencies and will have got a sense of the strength of public anger. They will be feeling increasingly bitter about the fact that – once again – they are getting heat for Boris Johnson’s own character failings.

We have PMQs on Wednesday which will likely feature more calls for the Prime Minister to resign. Last week we saw Conservative MPs throw softball questions to Johnson about washing machines and levelling-up, so let’s see if any critical voices will be heard this time around.

LibDem leader Ed Davey has submitted a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. The text of his early day motion – which has gathered some cross-party support – says: “That this House has no confidence in the Prime Minister because he has broken the Covid-19 lockdown laws his government introduced, misled both Parliament and the public about it and disastrously undermined public confidence in the midst of a pandemic.”

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We don’t yet know if it will be allotted parliamentary time. Regardless, there is no prospect of enough Tory MPs backing the motion for it to pass.

Which brings us to another focal point of the week to come: the no-confidence vote that does present a real danger to the Prime Minister.

Only a handful of Tory MPs have admitted publicly that they have sent letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee expressing their loss of confidence in Boris Johnson. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t mounting up. Estimates have the current total at anywhere between 20 and 35. The magic number is 54.

Unlike previous leaders, Johnson doesn’t have a core group of loyalists that will stick with him no matter what. He has remarkably few real friends and allies within the party.

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That’s what makes these next few days so dangerous for the lame-duck Prime Minister.

The damage has already been done and his party knows it. Minds have been made up. Sue Gray won’t swoop in and save them from themselves.

The topic of conversation in the tea room this week won’t be if they should continue with this disgraced man as leader – they know they can’t.

They will be discussing the timing of his departure. Depending on what happens in the next few days, they may find that even their best laid plans are overtaken by events outside of their control.

This opinion piece originally featured in our sister title, The National in Scotland. 

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