On Friday 9 June, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he would be stepping down as a Member of Parliament immediately. The following week, the damning Privileges Committee report came out. Impact’s Hannah Walton-Hughes reports.
The resignation announcement came after Mr. Johnson received the report from the Privileges Committee, investigating whether or not he intentionally misled Parliament over the Partygate scandal.
The Privileges Committee report was published on Thursday, and found that Boris Johnson had indeed intentionally misled Parliament. It recommended a 90-day suspension.
The Committee found that the former PM had “personal knowledge of breaches”, “repeated failures pro-actively to investigate them”, leading to “a deliberate closing of his mind to the facts.”
the Committee concluded that Johnson’s statement to the Commons that his officials had advised him that all social distancing guidelines were followed, was false
Regarding the six gatherings being investigated, between May 2020 and January 2021, the Committee concluded that Johnson’s statement to the Commons that his officials had advised him that all social distancing guidelines were followed, was false.
They also claim that some of Johnson’s denials were “deliberate attempts to mislead”, and that they were a “contempt” of Parliament, stopping the Committee from holding him to account.
The report also listed contempts that Mr. Johnson had made in connection with the Committee itself.
These point to him purposely misleading MPs investigating him on the Committee, engaging in a “campaign of abuse” against Committee members, and also to his resignation statement, which referred to the report before it was published.
There will now be a by-election in his seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip on 20th July
Two committee members wished to ban Mr. Johnson from the Commons altogether, but they were overruled by the four Tory MPs on the panel.
However, the Committee did recommend that he be stripped of a pass that former MPs usually get to enter Parliament.
Many have described Johnson’s response as jumping before he was ‘pushed’.
As Johnson has stepped down of his own accord, there will now be a by-election in his seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip on 20th July.
Simon Clarke MP called it “absolutely extraordinary to the point of sheer vindictiveness”
A vote will be held on Monday as to whether the report will be able to pass. It is expected that it will, because Tory MPs have not been instructed to vote against it, it is a free vote.
Some of Johnson’s most loyal supporters have hit back against the report. Nadine Dorries called it “overreaching”’ and Simon Clarke MP called it “absolutely extraordinary to the point of sheer vindictiveness”.
Nevertheless, Opposition parties have not been short in the criticism of Johnson. Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour party, called Johnson a “disgraced Prime Minister”.
Liberal Democrat deputy Daisy Cooper said the report should be “the final nail in the coffin for Boris Johnson’s political career”. Her party have also called for him to be scrapped of his former PM allowance.
Johnson believes that the Committee have not shown any evidence to suggest that he intentionally misled Parliament
Meanwhile Johnson called the report “deranged” and a “political assassination”.
In his resignation statement, Johnson hit out at both the Privileges Committee and the Conservative Party itself.
He believes he has been the victim of an anti-democratic “witch-hunt”, describing the Committee as “the very definition of a kangaroo court.”
Johnson believes that the Committee have not shown any evidence to suggest that he intentionally misled Parliament. He said “their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts.”
Direct criticism was aimed at the Chair of the Committee, Harriet Harman MP, who had made her views against Johnson know prior to the investigation.
Both Johnson and his allies have said that the motivation behind the report was about Brexit, and Johnson being at the forefront of the Leave campaign. In the statement, Johnson claims that there are MPs wishing to “take revenge” for Brexit and reverse the referendum result.
Johnson’s swipes extended to the current PM and Conservative Party as a whole. He referenced how the gap in the polls is wider than when he left office, and that the party needs to be “properly Conservative”: pro-growth, pro-investment and tax cutting.
A more personal dig at Sunak was also included, stating the government had “passively abandoned the prospect of a Free Trade Deal with the US”. This came just days after Rishi Sunak was in the US, on a visit to see Jo Biden.
Nadine Dorries’ resignation stemmed from the fact that she was not included on Boris Johnson’s honours list
The statement concludes with Johnson expressing his regret for having to leave his constituents and Parliament, “at least for now”. This final statement has left many open to the interpretation that he may return in the future.
Two of Boris Johnson’s biggest supporters, Nadine Dorries MP and Nigel Adams MP have also both stepped down as MPs with immediate effect.
Nadine Dorries’ resignation stemmed from the fact that she was not included on Boris Johnson’s honours list. She blamed Downing Street for removing her from the list in an interview with Piers Morgan on Talk TV yesterday.
Also on Johnson’s honours list were Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and Priti Patel MP, former Business and Home Secretary, respectively. Rees-Mogg was another to hit back at the report, saying the Committee looked “foolish”.
Rishi Sunak has come back at Johnson’s statement, saying in regard to the honours list that “Boris Johnson asked me to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do…I didn’t think it was right.” Sunak continued followed on by “If people don’t like that, then tough.”
Sunak alleges that said requests from Johnson included overruling the HOLAC Committee after their decision to remove his proposed peerages.
Nadine blames the PM and Number 10 directly for not being included on the list.
In Nadine Dorries’ interview she countered the claim that HOLAC had the “mandate” to remove names from the list; she contested much of what has been claimed by Number 10. She blames the PM and Number 10 directly for not being included on the list.
Dorries is delaying her resignation until an investigation is done into why she did not receive a peerage.
These mixed accounts and ‘war of words’ between Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak mean that the situation lacks clarity.
Many are continuing to speculate as to whether this will indeed be the end of Boris Johnson’s political career, or whether it is merely temporary.
The full report regarding the parliamentary decisions can be read here.
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