Cabinet ministers made public shows of support for Mr Johnson on Friday, with Michael Gove, the Communities Secretary, and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, giving broadcast clips as well as Damian Hinds, the Security Minister.
There is a growing speculation that Downing Street sackings will follow the publication of Ms Gray’s report, with Mr Gove hinting at as much when he talked to ITV News.
“If there is a specific need for disciplinary action or for responsibility to be taken, let’s do that. Let’s do it quickly, but let’s also do it with all the facts in front of us,” Mr Gove said.
However, Tory whips, who are in charge of keeping party discipline, are watching the actions of Ms Truss and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor – both often tipped as potential successors – with suspicion.
Ms Truss held drinks with a small group of MPs in her parliamentary office on Monday and will be on the other side of the world in Australia late next week when Ms Gray’s report could drop.
Mr Sunak is one of a diminishing number of Cabinet ministers yet to give an interview backing Mr Johnson to television or radio broadcasters since the Prime Minister’s apology on Wednesday.
Covid cases fall below 100,000 a day
Documents released by Sage on Friday show that Warwick University modelled the end of Plan B on January 26 and compared it to adding in more restrictions, such as the rule of six and a ban on indoor mixing.
The modellers said it was “striking” that additional controls had “relatively little impact” on the peak level of hospital admissions, but could bring the overall epidemic under control more quickly.
On Friday, cases fell below 100,000 a day for the first time since December 21 and hospital admissions have now also started to decrease.
Downing Street has made clear that no final decision had been taken yet on whether to lift Plan B measures in England January 26.
It came as a new poll gave Labour a 10-point lead over the Conservatives and its largest predicted vote share in almost a decade.
A Savanta ComRes survey, its first voting intention poll since the so-called “partygate” allegations broke, put Sir Keir Starmer’s party on 42 points, up by five, with the Tories on 32, down by one.
The Liberal Democrats are on 11 points, the SNP and the Green Party jointly on four, with “others” taking seven per cent of the predicted vote.
The polling outfit said 42 per cent was the highest vote share for Labour since 2013, with its 10-point lead the best since April 2019.