MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Boris Johnson has already paid a heavy price so aim this vengeful court
How do you explain MPs’ continued determination to move forward with a tribunal empowered to humiliate and harm Boris Johnson for wrongdoings he has already confessed to and for which he suffered the heavy penalty of being forced out of the highest office in government?
The House of Commons Privileges Committee has extraordinary powers to grill Mr Johnson in public and even (incredibly and surprisingly) to force him to resign as an MP. It should open its work at the beginning of September when Parliament returns.
The official explanation is that the Committee is investigating the broad question of whether the House of Commons was misled. They say what they call “political developments” “have nothing to do with it”.
The “developments” they so lightly dismiss are a half-revolution, including the dramatic resignation of the head of government and the current Tory leadership election.
The House of Commons Privileges Committee has extraordinary powers to grill Mr Johnson in public and even (incredibly and surprisingly) to force him to resign as an MP. It should open its work at the beginning of September when Parliament returns
But the Committee heavily insists that it doesn’t matter, saying, “The House has charged the Committee with this task and we are obligated to pursue it.” Unlike other committees, we do not set our own agenda. Maybe. But from the outside, it’s a bit like the commissioner of the Titanic continuing to investigate a lost set of keys in the captain’s drinks cupboard long after everyone involved, and the ship itself, has plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Committee also seems to have forgotten the normal rules of due process. When they say they will seek to establish whether the Prime Minister has “misled the House”, they are operating a profound change in their powers.
They were originally set to investigate whether Mr Johnson had knowingly misled the Commons, a much more serious and quite separate charge. All adults (and most children) are well aware of the huge difference between inadvertently unintentionally tricking someone and knowingly and deliberately doing so. The two offenses are as far apart as east is from west.
There is even more to worry the impartial citizen. The Mail on Sunday reports today that the panel which will try the Prime Minister includes several MPs who have clearly identified with Mr Johnson’s critics, some very strongly. Wouldn’t that rightly exclude them from such an investigation?
In a fascinating and honorable contrast, Labor MP Chris Bryant stepped down as chairman of the committee because he had strongly criticized Mr Johnson publicly and, as he said, it was “important that the House be perceived as proceeding fairly without any imputation”. injustice and that the whole House have confidence in the work of the Privileges Committee”.
How right he was. What a pity that others did not follow his example.
The Mail on Sunday believes the impeachment of Boris Johnson was an act of epic madness and self-harm by the Conservative Party. But this is now a closed topic. We urge MPs, and especially Conservatives who have even more reason to be better informed, to step down from this futile and ill-conceived tribunal and put an end to it.
One would have thought that the Prime Minister’s enemies would have been content to chase him from Downing Street despite his enormous electoral tenure, high popularity and long list of solid achievements in office.
You might have thought that his clear admission of wrongdoing and acceptance of legal sanctions would be enough to satisfy any reasonable thirst for justice. These haters, seemingly obsessed with kicking Boris Johnson when he’s down, would do well to remember the maxim laid down by the greatest of all parliamentarians, Sir Winston Churchill: “In victory, magnanimity”. This pursuit sounds much more like vengeful grudge than magnanimity.
The Mail on Sunday believes the impeachment of Boris Johnson was an act of epic madness and self-harm by the Conservative Party. But this is now a closed topic. We urge MPs, and especially Conservatives who have even more reason to be better informed, to get out of this futile and ill-conceived tribunal and put an end to it.
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