“Do you know a good lawyer?”

The main reason why some local journalists have suddenly turned their focus onto Henry McDonald’s previously discounted speculation on the DUP and Blair’s potential successor is the air of crisis that has engulfed the current tenant of Number 10. And, while some of the usual suspects are repeating their calls for resignation, a more significant assessment of the situation comes via the Observer’s recently named Political Journalist of the Year, Andrew Rawnsley. As he points out, whatever happens in the intervening months, September will see a renewed focus on the cash for peerages investigation.

The police have already filed two preliminary reports with the crown prosecution service. The final report, on which the CPS will decide whether or not to bring prosecutions, is expected to be delivered in September on the eve of the Labour party conference in Manchester. If charges are brought at that point, they will have an absolutely incendiary effect just as Tony Blair is about to face what was already promising to be a extremely febrile gathering of his party.