The unknown is far scarier than the known when it comes to partying, even on a day when the number of fines issued to people working at the heart of government for pandemic rule violations doubles.
Number 10 must not be a comfortable place right now.
When investigation began, Downing Street understood that the Metropolitan Police were moving methodically and investigating events chronologically.
Latest political news: Cabinet ministers dodge questions over ‘shocking scale of law breaking’ as new fines are imposed
It provided a degree of certainty, an implied timetable and an overly optimistic briefing to some more gullible corners of Westminster.
This hypothesis has evaporated.
Insiders admit they no longer have any idea of the Met’s working methods, approach or timeline.
Questionnaires were still distributed last week. Interviews with witnesses are still ongoing.
And until Whitehall gets the process under control, a debilitating cloud hangs over the government, with ministers freely admitting that Boris Johnson’s future remains uncertain – despite all the public bravado they display every morning with Kay Burley.
The remaining cloud over the head of Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is almost as important to the smooth running of Whitehall.
Nominally the most senior official in the country, he continues to have to answer questions about his own breaking of the law and whether he has been fined.
If political rigor mortis takes hold properly, as it is beginning to take hold, according to some senior officials, it will cause incalculable damage to the functioning of the state.
Mr Case’s choice to walk into the regional cabinet meeting in Stoke via the TV cameras today, an appearance that turned into a painful medley staring at the ground as he faced a deluge of questions about fines, will be noted by ambitious and more cautious colleagues across Whitehall.
Cabinet ministers and the Conservative Party can see it.
There is no decision to overthrow the PM. There’s not a lot of plot. There is no obvious successor.
But there is an unease: each problem builds on the last, and cooler heads dismiss the PM’s analysis like a greased piglet that always escapes the chop.
Quite simply, the day of judgment is yet to come. Nobody knows when it will be or – above all – the result.
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