Privileges Committee to publish verdict that Johnson lied to MPs over partygate
A long-awaited report concluding that Boris Johnson misled Parliament with his partygate denials is set to be published on Thursday morning.
After a 14-month investigation, the Privileges Committee will release its findings on whether the former prime minister committed a contempt of Parliament by misleading MPs either recklessly or deliberately by denying lockdown rules were broken in No 10.
Mr Johnson has railed against the committee he has criticised as a “kangaroo court”, and dramatically quit as an MP on Friday after receiving its verdict.
The former Conservative leader’s resignation means he will not serve the lengthy suspension likely to be recommended.
If it was at least 10 days and approved by the Commons, then a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency could have been triggered.
His decision to quit pre-empted such an outcome, with his constituents to go to the polls next month in a major electoral challenge for Rishi Sunak.
Mr Johnson’s ally Nigel Adams also stepped down and his arch-supporter Nadine Dorries has announced she will go too, though her demands for answers about why she was denied a peerage before she formally quits as an MP look set to prolong the by-election struggle for the Prime Minister.
The Privileges Committee report is expected to be released at around 9am on Thursday and to be some 30,000 words long.
Mr Johnson has indicated he will make his “views clear” once it is released.
In a last-ditch attempt to disparage the Tory-majority panel on the eve of publication, he called for its most senior Conservative member to resign.
He accused Sir Bernard Jenkin of “monstrous hypocrisy” after the Guido Fawkes website reported the MP had gone to a drinks party in Parliament while Covid restrictions were in place in 2020.
But Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said this was a “typical distraction tactic” from the ex-premier “that doesn’t change the fact he broke the law and lied about it”.
The Financial Times reported that Mr Johnson will be found to have committed “multiple” contempts of Parliament, including disclosing some of its draft findings in his resignation statement last week.
The MPs on the panel have rejected his defence that senior officials advised him Covid rules and guidance had been followed in No 10, according to the Times.
A senior aide in fact warned him against claiming to the Commons that social distancing guidelines were observed, the newspaper reported.
A vote could be held on the seven-person committee’s conclusions in the Commons next week.
A majority vote in favour would amount to a significant rebuke for Mr Johnson less than a year after he left No 10.
The committee is also set to raise concerns about MPs who have criticised the probe, but not name them, according to the FT.
Home Office minister Chris Philp argued the MPs, including Tory former Cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg who branded it a “kangaroo court”, should not be censured.
“Although I don’t characterise the committee in those terms, I think people are free to express their opinions,” he told ITV’s Peston.
“I don’t think we should be trying to sort of muzzle MPs.”
Senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes told the same programme that “the psychodrama of what’s going on with the former minister, the chaos of these by-elections” were a “distraction” from the big issues facing the country
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