Boris Johnson: ex-PM urges Privileges Committee to publish report on whether he misled Parliament after delay
Johnson - who called the Commons investigation examining whether he misled Parliament a “kangaroo court” - resigned as an MP on Friday
and live on Freeview channel 276
Boris Johnson has urged a committee of MPs to publish its report on whether he misled Parliament over the Partygate scandal and "let the world judge their nonsense".
Yesterday, it emerged the report was facing a delay - after the committee investigating the claims said it had received ‘further representations’ from the former Prime Minister.
Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday (13 June) evening: “The Privileges Committee should publish their report and let the world judge their nonsense. They have no excuse for delay”.
“Their absurdly unfair rules do not even allow any criticism of their findings. I have made my views clear to the committee in writing – and will do so more widely when they finally publish.”
The Commons Privileges Committee met on Monday to finalise the report - an advance copy of which prompted Johnson to resign as an MP with immediate effect. It’s now working through the latest material.
Exactly what is the committee investigating?
The 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 Uxbridge and South Ruislip 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 he would step down as an MP with immediate effect as a result.
Johnson went on: “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 on Monday (12 June).
Then yesterday, it announced “a letter enclosing further representations from Mr Johnson” was received late the previous evening.
A spokesman said: “The committee is dealing with these and will 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”.
Who else is stepping down as a Conservative MP?
A few hours before Johnson announced his resignation from Parliament, one of his closest allies - Nadine Dorries - confirmed she would do the same. She was expected to receive a peerage in Johnson’s resignation honours list - also published on Friday - but did not. On TalkTV on Monday night, she accused Sunak and his aide James Forsyth of “duplicitously and cruelly” blocking her peerage.
There will now be a by-election in Dorries’ Mid Bedfordshire constituency - where Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has already been campaigning - and a further election in Selby and Ainsty, where another Johnson ally Nigel Adams decided over the weekend to step down with immediate effect.
What has the government said?
Rishi Sunak made his only comments on the honours row at a technology conference in London. He said Johnson had asked him to do something he “wasn’t prepared to do”, and if people didn’t like it, “tough”.
On Sunday, Energy Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme that politics had “moved on” from the drama of Johnson’s tenure in Downing Street - and played down speculation the former PM might stand in Dorries’ Mid Bedfordshire seat.
On Monday, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove acknowledged on BBC Breakfast that facing three separate electoral tests was “challenging” - but dismissed calls from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for a snap general election, saying it was “vitally important” to deal with the issues facing the country.
He also insisted that the Conservatives were “united behind Rishi Sunak in making sure that we demonstrate that the priorities that the British public have.”