In a highly anticipated report released on Friday, June 16, the Privileges Committee of Members of Parliament has recommended a 90-day suspension for Boris Johnson, accompanied by restrictions on his access to parliamentary privileges.
The committee’s investigation found Mr. Johnson guilty of significant breaches, surpassing the threshold required for triggering a recall petition and a potential by-election.
The report reveal that Mr Johnson repeatedly misled MPs by insisting that all rules were adhered to in Downing Street, despite evidence of parties held in violation of lockdown regulations.
The former Prime Minister was found to be “deliberately disingenuous” when attempting to explain and justify these gatherings.
The committee concluded that Mr. Johnson breached the confidence placed in him by the committee.
His actions exhibited further contempt by impugning the committee, thereby undermining the democratic process of the House of Commons.
Complicity in abuse
The report accuses Mr. Johnson of being complicit in a campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation targeting the committee.
In addition to the recommended suspension, the committee also proposed that Mr. Johnson be denied a former member’s pass, which grants access to Parliament following his resignation as an MP.
This investigation by the Commons privileges committee commenced in June of the previous year, following an inquiry conducted by the police and senior civil servant Sue Gray.
Their investigation confirmed the occurrence of multiple gatherings in Downing Street during periods of lockdown.
Led by Labour MP Harriet Harman, the cross-party committee’s task was to assess whether Mr. Johnson had recklessly or deliberately misled Parliament with his claims that all COVID-19 rules and guidance were followed by Number 10.
The committee’s 30,000-word report delivers a scathing indictment, asserting that “Mr. Johnson committed a serious contempt by deliberately misleading the House.”
The committee emphasized the gravity of this contempt, as it was committed by the highest-ranking member of the government, the Prime Minister.
Such a finding is unprecedented in the history of British prime ministers, the report says.
In response to the committee’s conclusions, Boris Johnson swiftly criticized the report, dismissing it as a “deranged conclusion” and labelling it a “charade.”
Expressing regret for placing his trust in the committee, he stated, “I was wrong to believe in the committee or its good faith.”
Mr. Johnson specifically targeted Harriet Harman, accusing her and the committee of distorting the truth to suit their own agenda.
“This is a dark day for MPs and for democracy,” suggesting that the investigation represented a prolonged political assassination intended to deliver a final blow.
The committee rejected Mr. Johnson’s defense that he was unaware the gatherings violated regulations, finding it lacking in credibility.
Despite his repeated assertions that a particular leaving event at Number 10, where he toasted departing communications chief Lee Cain, was “absolutely essential for work purposes,” the committee deemed this explanation invalid.
They argued that the severe staff morale pressures during the pandemic did not justify Mr. Johnson’s flexible interpretation of gathering rules or social distancing guidelines.
The repercussions of the Privileges Committee’s findings and recommendations remain to be seen, as Boris Johnson’s political future hangs in the balance, awaiting further developments in this ongoing saga.
“This is a dark day for MPs and for democracy.”Boris Johnson
Former Prime Minister