Boris Johnson is expected to scapegoat the head of the civil service Simon Case this week in a desperate effort to save his own job, as both men face stinging criticism in a report into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.
The long-awaited findings of the senior mandarin Sue Gray will, according to several sources, lay particular blame on Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, for allowing a drinking culture to develop in which rule-breaking parties became commonplace during lockdowns.
One senior Whitehall figure who has seen sections of the report said it could also prove more damaging for Johnson than the fine he was given in April for attending his own birthday party, because it will make clear the PM’s involvement in several other events which may have breached rules, but for which he was not fined.
“From my expectation of what I know it will be the real deal. There will be detail. There will be evidence. She is going to say this is under your watch, this is your house, all that kind of stuff,” the source said.
Senior officials are braced for Case to be so heavily criticised that he will have to offer his resignation, or be sacked by Johnson, in order for Johnson to be able to say he has acted decisively and learned lessons.
“That is probably why he [Case] is still there [and not moved from his post already],” said one source. “Because Johnson needs a body.” If Case were to be lose his job, however, it would mean that a civil servant who has not been fined would have lost his job, while the prime minister, who has been fined, keeps his.