WILL Boris Johnson step down as leader of the United Kingdom? Paradoxically, it seems that those on his side will be hoping so.

Douglas Ross and his Scottish Tories have already hedged their bets, and every day Johnson defies them and remains in power is another in which they are made to seem ever more powerless by their London colleagues.

So for Ross, the sooner Johnson goes, the better. The same could be said for Tories with their sights set on the top job. But who among them, even the popular Rishi Sunak who attended the birthday party thrown for Johnson mid-lockdown, hasn’t yet been tarnished by association?

Could any of them even win a leadership challenge? Would they want to risk losing one?

The National: Rishi Sunak's leadership hopes may be pie-in-the-sky now he is implicated in partygateRishi Sunak's leadership hopes may be pie-in-the-sky now he is implicated in partygate

For Labour and the SNP though, the more drawn out Johnson’s death throes become, the weaker the Conservative Party will be when he finally does leave.

With each day another step closer to the next General Election, the parties may well be hoping that claims Johnson intends to fight that campaign turn out to be true. If recent polling is anything to go by, that vote could see Labour sweep to power, while the SNP take every single seat north of the Border.

READ MORE: If Boris Johnson goes, what next for Scottish independence?

But polls are just polls, and the next General Election is not due until May 2024 - after the Scottish Government’s planned date for a second independence vote.

Behind closed doors, the SNP may well be hoping that Johnson, “the Yes movement’s top recruiting sergeant”, stays in post at least long enough for that projected 2023 vote.

But the likelihood of Johnson holding on that long looks slimmer with each passing day, and each new scandalous revelation of lockdown-breaking behaviour at Downing Street.

The Prime Minister and his cronies have so far been hiding behind an internal report being compiled by Sue Gray - the civil servant appointed after the previous one was also found to be implicated in “partygate”.

The National: Senior civil servant Sue Gray is leading the partygate inquirySenior civil servant Sue Gray is leading the partygate inquiry

Illogically, Gray found herself grilling police officers as part of her inquiry. Those interviews reportedly turned up damning testimony - despite the Met Police themselves refusing to investigate anything.

The police force finally and begrudgingly U-turned on Tuesday, presumably forced to admit that testimony from their own staff might constitute the “evidence” they previously claimed had been lacking.

That excuse, and a claimed policy not to investigate Covid lockdown breaches retrospectively, are likely to be unlawful, according to legal advice published by Good Law Project.

READ MORE: Sue Gray to 'publish report tonight' despite partygate probe by police

Johnson’s government wants to delay Sue Gray’s report - and the no-confidence letters predicted to flood in after its publication - until after the Met’s probe ends. But neither Gray nor the Met are playing ball.

Instead, the internal report could be out as soon as this week - while the Met’s investigation rolls on in the background for months or even a year.

This mess might buy the Prime Minister some time, but with mounting headlines, leadership manoeuvres, and plummeting polls, is that really what his party wants?