MPs will later decide whether to back a report that found Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament about the lockdown parties in No 10.
A 14-month investigation by the Commons Privileges Committee found the former Prime Minister had committed repeated criminal offenses with his Partygate denials.
The long-awaited report concludes that Mr Johnson misled the House of Commons by:
– Claiming that the Covid rules and guidelines in number 10 have always been followed on four separate occasions;
– failure to tell the House of Representatives “of its own knowledge of the meetings at which rule or policy was violated”;
– He said he had relied on “repeated assurances” that no rules had been broken;
– insisting on waiting for publication of Sue Gray’s report before answering questions in the House of Representatives, despite having “personal knowledge which he did not disclose”;
– By claiming that rules and guidelines had been followed while present at gatherings in Number 10 in May 2022 when he “pretended to set the record straight”.
The report recommends that Boris should have been suspended from the House of Commons for 90 days if he had not already spectacularly resigned as an MP.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is yet to confirm whether he will vote on the results and said this morning he did not want to influence anyone before the vote.
The Prime Minister told Good Morning Britain: “This committee was set up under the former Prime Minister.” It inspired the confidence of the House at the time and I am sure they did a thorough job and I respect them for that.
“This is a matter for the House of Representatives and not the government, that’s an important distinction and that’s why I don’t want to influence anyone before this vote.”
“It is up to each individual MP to decide what they want to do at the appropriate time. It is important that the government does not interfere in this, because it is a matter for Parliament and for the members as individuals, not as members like the government.’
It will be a free vote for Tory MPs, meaning lashes – they will give them no instructions on what to do in the vote, which is expected to take place on Monday night after a debate.
The report is expected to pass without a hitch, but it’s unclear whether a vote will be recorded as Mr Johnson urged his allies not to vote against it.
It is likely that some Conservative MPs will abstain or fail to attend.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who also served in Mr Johnson’s cabinet, has confirmed he intends to abstain – becoming the only member of the Sunak government to state his intentions.
Votes in the House of Commons will initially be conducted by vote, with a division – where MPs go through voting lobbies to record their support – only convened if the speaker thinks the result is not obvious.
Opposition MPs are expected to shout “yes” later to approve the report. However, if no MP in the chamber shouts ‘no’, there is no split, which means that the votes of individual MPs are not recorded.
Last week Boris claimed the report was intended as the “final stabbing” in his “political assassination”.
After a 14-month investigation, the committee concluded he had “repeatedly disregarded” Parliament with his Partygate denials and said it would have recommended a substantial 90-day suspension if he had not already resigned.
In written evidence, an official told the panel Number 10 was an “oasis of normality” where Covid rules were being ignored and “Wine Time Fridays” continued while the rest of the country faced tough restrictions. They said staff had been warned to “be on guard” for press cameras outside and to follow directions when exiting, but it was “all pantomime”.
Opposition MPs and the families of the Covid victims said the report should be “the final nail in the coffin” of Mr Johnson’s political career, while close allies came to his aid and fought back the committee’s “vindictive” decision.
The report also recommends that Mr Johnson should be denied a parliamentary pass, to which he would normally be entitled as a former MP.
Several of Mr Johnson’s allies have criticized the committee for its findings.
However, it’s not clear how many of his allies are ultimately willing to show up to voice their opposition.
Contact our news team by emailing us at email@example.com.
For more stories like this, Check out our news page.