Boris Johnson resigns as MP with immediate effect as he blasts Commons partygate investigation
The former Prime Minister described the Commons investigation into whether he misled Parliament over the partygate scandal as a “kangaroo court”
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Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned as an MP with immediate effect - claiming he was "bewildered and appalled" by a Commons investigation into whether he misled Parliament over the Partygate scandal.
In a statement, he accused the committee examining the allegations of “using the proceedings to drive me out of Parliament”. It will meet on Monday (12 June) to conclude its inquiry, while a by-election will now take place in Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
The Commons Privileges Committee - made up of 7 MPs, four of them Conservative - had been looking into claims Johnson lied to Parliament about his knowledge of lockdown-breaking gatherings at Downing Street. He, his wife Carrie Johnson and the then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak were all fined for taking part in such gatherings.
The committee recently gave Johnson the preliminary findings of its report so he’d have a chance to respond before it was made public. The MPs reportedly recommended he should be suspended from the House of Commons for 10 days.
Crucially, this would have triggered a so-called recall petition in his constituency - and if enough people signed it, a by-election.
How did Johnson react?
In a furious statement released on Friday night (9 June), Johnson called the committee - chaired by Labour MP Harriet Harman - a “kangeroo court” and suggested it was trying to drive him “out of Parliament” partly in revenge for delivering Brexit.
He said: “It is very sad to be leaving Parliament, at least for now, but above all I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out, anti-democratically, by a committee chaired and managed, by Harriet Harman, with such egregious bias”.
How did the Privileges Committee respond?
In a short but strongly-worded statement late on Friday, the committee rejected any allegations of bias and said it would finalise its conclusions at the start of next week.
A spokesman said: “The committee has followed the procedures and the mandate of the House at all times and will continue to do so”.
“Mr Johnson has departed from the processes of the House and has impugned the integrity of the House by his statement”.
“The committee will meet on Monday to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly”.
What else did Johnson say in his statement?
Johnson appeared to criticise the direction Rishi Sunak had taken the Conservatives in since he vacated Number 10. He said: “When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened”.
“Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do”.
He added: “We need to show how we are making the most of Brexit and we need in the next months to be setting out a pro-growth and pro-investment agenda. We need to cut business and personal taxes – and not just as pre-election gimmicks – rather than endlessly putting them up. We must not be afraid to be a properly Conservative government”.
What are other Conservatives saying?
Some of Johnson’s biggest supporters came out to defend him. Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith said the former PM was “an extraordinary politician and an extraordinary person” who’d been on the receiving end of a “Parliamentary witchhunt”.
Priti Patel, who was nominated by Johnson for a damehood hours before he quit, called him a “political titan”.
And opposition parties?
On Twitter, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy called Johnson the “most self-serving, venal, divisive and dishonest Prime Minister of my lifetime”.
In a two-word statement, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said: “good riddance”.
What about Nadine Dorries?
Earlier on Friday, another of Johnson’s close allies - Nadine Dorries - also resigned from the Commons with immediate effect following a row over his resignation honours list. She was expected to receive a peerage but was missed off the list.