Liz Truss has said she backs Boris Johnson “100%”, amid widespread expectations she would run for Conservative Party leader should he be forced out.
The prime minister is under intense pressure over the partygate allegations, with several Tory MPs already having called for him to resign.
On Tuesday the Metropolitan Police announced Scotland Yard would be investigating the allegations that lockdown breaking parties were held in No.10 and Whitehall.
Johnson’s immediate survival could hinge on the contents of the internal Cabinet Office inquiry by senior civil servant Sue Gray into the parties.
While it was suspected her report could be published on Wednesday, HuffPost UK understands it has still not been received by late afternoon and expectations were that it will not be made public until Thursday at the earliest.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Truss defended Johnson as having done a “fantastic job”.
“I believe the prime minister should continue in office. I think he’s doing a great job. He’s apologised, he’s admitted that mistakes were made,” she said.
But while offering her support, she did not deny it was her ambition to become party leader herself, saying only: “I want the prime minister to continue in his job, he is doing a great job, I support him 100%.”
Truss also dismissed as “complete hypothetical speculation” the suggestion by her cabinet colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg, an ally of Johnson, that if he was ousted as leader there would need to be a general election.
Rees-Mogg told BBC Newsnight a new party leader would need “a fresh mandate” from voters as prime minister.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.