14 June 2023

Boris Johnson demands Tory quits Privileges Committee on eve of partygate report

14 June 2023

Boris Johnson has claimed a Tory MP sitting on the committee preparing to publish a report finding he misled Parliament with his partygate denials may have broken lockdown rules.

The former prime minister described the allegation as “nauseating” and called for Sir Bernard Jenkin’s resignation from the Privileges Committee on the eve of the publication of its investigation into whether Mr Johnson lied to MPs.

The Guido Fawkes website reported that Sir Bernard went to a drinks party held by Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing in December 2020, while London was in Tier 2 measures restricting indoor mixing.

The allegation emerged as the cross-party committee Sir Bernard sits on was preparing to publish on Thursday morning its damning report that Mr Johnson has already resigned as an MP over.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “Bernard Jenkin has just voted to expel me from Parliament for allegedly trying to conceal from Parliament my knowledge of illicit events.

(Sir Bernard) has no choice but to explain his actions to his own committee, for his colleagues to investigate and then to resign

“Now it turns out he may have for the whole time known that he himself attended an event – and concealed this from the Privileges Committee and the whole House for the last year.

“To borrow the language of the committee, if this is the case, he ‘must have known’ he was in breach of the rules.

“He has no choice but to explain his actions to his own committee, for his colleagues to investigate and then to resign.”

Mr Johnson also wrote to committee chair Harriet Harman demanding that she clarify whether she checked that panel members had not attended such events before the inquiry began.

In a rancorous letter, he wrote that if the report was true, Sir Bernard was “guilty of flagrant and monstrous hypocrisy”.

“I really find it incredible – and nauseating – that this matter is emerging at this stage of your process.”

Lord Peter Cruddas, a Tory donor who Mr Johnson elevated to the Lords, called for the police to investigate.

Sir Bernard has been contacted while a representative for Dame Eleanor declined to comment.

London had entered Tier 2 restrictions six days before the alleged gathering in Parliament on December 8 2020.

Indoor mixing was banned and the rule of six was in place outside. Bars and pubs could only serve alcohol alongside “substantial” meals.

Sources said the Tory-majority Privileges Committee, chaired by Labour’s Ms Harman, had signed off on its report into Mr Johnson and will publish on Thursday morning.

They have investigated whether Mr Johnson committed a contempt of Parliament by misleading MPs either recklessly or deliberately by denying rule-breaking parties in No 10.

The former prime minister was himself fined by the Metropolitan Police, which issued 126 fixed-penalty notices for Covid breaches across Downing Street and Whitehall.

Mr Johnson has railed against the committee he has criticised as a “kangaroo court” and stood down as an MP on Friday after receiving their findings.

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.

Instead, his constituents will go to the polls next month in a major electoral challenge for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak because of the resignation.

This a typical distraction tactic from Boris Johnson that doesn't change the fact he broke the law and lied about it.

Mr Johnson’s ally Nigel Adams also resigned and his arch-supporter Nadine Dorries has announced she will quit as an MP too.

The former prime minister has publicly clashed with Mr Sunak, accusing him of “talking rubbish” over his resignation honours list.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said: “This a typical distraction tactic from Boris Johnson that doesn’t change the fact he broke the law and lied about it.

“The Conservative Party is now in a full blown civil war, while people struggle to afford to pay their mortgage or get a GP appointment. This whole unedifying spectacle needs to brought to an end as soon as possible.

“We need a general election now to finally get rid of this chaotic Conservative government.”

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