Boris Johnson Accused of Deliberately Misleading Parliament Over Partygate Scandal
Former UK Prime Minister faces suspension and condemnation after inquiry findings
Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of deliberately misleading Parliament in relation to the Partygate scandal, according to a damning report released by the Privileges Committee. The inquiry found that Johnson had committed repeated offenses with his denials surrounding lockdown parties, leading to potential consequences such as a 90-day suspension if he were still serving as an MP. However, Johnson had already stepped down prior to the release of the findings.
In a scathing response, Johnson labeled the committee a "kangaroo court" and dismissed their conclusions as "deranged." He claimed that the year-long inquiry was part of a prolonged political assassination plot against him. Johnson is the first former prime minister to be found guilty of deliberately misleading Parliament.
A by-election to replace Johnson in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency has been confirmed for July 20, coinciding with a separate election to fill the seat left vacant by Nigel Adams, an ally of Johnson. The seven-person Privileges Committee, chaired by Labour's Harriet Harman but with a Tory majority, conducted an investigation into whether Johnson misled MPs regarding Covid breaches in Downing Street during the pandemic.
The committee's extensive report, spanning 106 pages, concluded that Johnson's knowledge of the breaches, coupled with his failure to investigate them, constituted a deliberate disregard for the truth. It focused on six gatherings between May 2020 and January 2021, as well as Johnson's statements to Parliament regarding these events. The committee found that Johnson's denials were so disingenuous that they were clearly intended to mislead.
In addition to recommending a 90-day suspension, the committee also called for Johnson to be stripped of the access pass granted to former MPs for entry into Parliament. Some members of the committee sought to expel Johnson from the Commons entirely, but were outvoted by the four Tory MPs on the committee.
The report will now be debated by MPs, with a vote scheduled to approve the findings. While the majority of Conservative MPs are expected to approve the report, a small number have criticized it. Jacob Rees-Mogg described the committee as appearing foolish, while Simon Clarke labeled the report vindictive. Labour's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, supported the committee's findings and asserted that Johnson should not be allowed near Parliament as a disgraced prime minister.
As the fallout from the Partygate scandal continues, the Liberal Democrats have called for Johnson to be stripped of his annual allowance of £115,000 for running his office as a former prime minister. Campaign groups representing families bereaved by Covid also expressed their belief that Johnson should be permanently barred from public office.
In a defiant response to the committee's report, Johnson reiterated his defense and criticized the committee's motives. He dismissed the allegations of deliberately misleading Parliament as baseless and absurd, comparing the committee's conclusions to speculative psychic predictions. The Partygate scandal, which first came to light in late 2021, tarnished Johnson's tenure as prime minister and contributed to his resignation. Internal and police investigations into the gatherings resulted in fines for Covid rule breaches, with Johnson himself being sanctioned by the police for such violations.