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Boris Johnson: What led to the ex-PM’s shock resignation as an MP? | Political news

Boris Johnson: What led to the ex-PM’s shock resignation as an MP?  |  Political news


Boris Johnson has always been painfully aware of how the Privileges Committee held his political future in its own hands.

For months there has been speculation about what conclusion he would reach in his inquiry into whether he knowingly misled MPs with his statements about Downing Street parties.

In the worst reading, the committee would have recommended a suspension of 10 days or more, creating the possibility of a by-election in his fringe constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip – a move that could have seen Mr Johnson ousted by his electorate.

In the end, it seems he decided to jump before he was pushed.

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Reaction as Boris Johnson ‘throws in the towel’

In his shock decision to resignthe former prime minister was unequivocal about who and what was to blame for his premature exit from parliament.

“It’s very sad to be leaving Parliament – at least for now – but above all I am bewildered and appalled to be expelled, undemocratically, by a committee chaired and managed by Harriet Harman with such blatant bias,” did he declare. writing.

He went on to say that after receiving the committee’s findings, he concluded that it was “determined to use the prosecution against me to oust me from parliament”.

The blunt statement was a decent summary of how Mr Johnson felt about the Privileges Committee’s investigation into whether he misled MPs with his statements about parties in Downing Street.

The Commons cross-party committee, led by Labor stalwart Ms Harman but with a Tory majority, began the investigation into Mr Johnson last June.

They assessed whether Mr Johnson misled MPs with his statements in parliament claiming that all COVID rules and guidelines were followed by Number 10 during lockdown rallies.

Deputies collected evidence, including WhatsApps, emails and photos, of those who were at the parts and those who know about it.

While the commission collected oral and written testimony from numerous witnesses, the former prime minister is the only person to have testified in public.

In March of this year, he spent more than three hours answer questions about what he knew about the 10 lockdown rallies.

Here is what happened during this session:

swear on the bible

Mr Johnson took an oath on a King James Bible to speak ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God’.

It had been more than 10 years since a parliamentary testimony session had started in this way and meant that his testimony was subject to the Perjury Act 1911, so lying or providing a false account would be a criminal offence.

The Clerk of the Committee (left) swears in former Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of his testimony to the House of Commons Privileges Committee, London.  Picture date: Wednesday March 22, 2023.
Mr Johnson swore on a bible before giving evidence

“I did not lie”

Shortly after taking the oath on the Bible, Mr Johnson told the committee: ‘Hand on heart, I did not lie to the House.’

Learn more:
Committee: COVID rule violations would have been obvious to Johnson
What punishment could Johnson face if he misled MPs?

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“I did not lie to the House”

‘Absolutely essential’ to hold the start

Some of the five events Mr Johnson took part in were on staff leave and took place when two or more people were not allowed to meet indoors outside of essential work purposes as social distancing was maintained.

The former prime minister told the committee: “I think it was absolutely essential for professional purposes.

“I will believe until the day I die that it was my job to thank the staff for what they had done, especially during a crisis like COVID, which kept coming back, which seemed to never end.

“And when people’s morale started, I’m afraid, to sink.”

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing”

Asked if he wondered if any events he was going to attend would break lockdown rules, Mr Johnson said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

“In retrospect, I may have thought of certain things, after Sue Gray, after the beginning of the revelation of all that was revealed.

“But no. At the time I thought we were working. I thought we were working. I promise you that’s what those in charge at No 10 thought they were doing too.”

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Highlights of Boris Johnson’s testimony

People are “completely wrong”

About two hours into the long session, Mr Johnson appeared to lose his temper as he defended the No 10 events.

When asked if he would have advised anyone else in the country at the time to hold a large-scale social gathering in the garden, he insisted that “it was not not a big social gathering, it was a gathering”.

“I really have to stress this, people who say we were partying in lockdown just don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.

“People who say the event was a purely social gathering are absolutely wrong.

“My aim was to thank the staff, to motivate them in what had been a very difficult time and which was also a very difficult day in which the cabinet secretary had just resigned.

Staff insurance

Mr Johnson’s defense rested on the fact, he said, that he had received assurances from senior staff that the gatherings did not break the rules.

But Chairman Ms Harman was unimpressed with his claims, calling the assurances “fragile”.

“You were there at the time, so it’s a bit difficult to understand what the nature of insurance is when you’ve been there and seen it with your own eyes,” she said.

“I mean, if I was going 100 miles an hour and I saw the speedometer say 100 miles an hour, that would be a little weird, wouldn’t it, if I said, somebody one assured me that was not the case.”

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Is Boris Johnson a man of integrity?

“Completely absurd”

The former PM lost his temper with fellow Tory MP after Sir Bernard Jenkin suggested he hadn’t sought ‘proper’ advice before telling MPs no lockdown party had took place in Downing Street.

“It’s complete nonsense, I mean, complete nonsense,” he said. “I asked the people involved,” he said.

“They were old people. They worked very hard. [Downing Street communications director] Jack Doyle gave me a clear account of what happened.”

Fixed penalty notice ‘blew my mind’

Following the Met Police investigation into partygate, Mr Johnson was fined for one event – his own birthday party in June 2020, held in the Cabinet Room of Downing Street.

He told the committee he thought it was a work event and that the fine “upset me because I didn’t understand why I got it.”

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“They fined me for having lunch”

Unable to maintain social distancing in Downing Street

The ex-Prime Minister said social distancing was nearly impossible in Downing Street as it was a ‘crampy, cramped 18th century townhouse’.

He said they avoided physical contact and gave way in the hallways “but it would have been impossible to have a drill sergeant measuring the distance between us at all times of the day and night, so as prescribed guidelines, we had mitigations”.

Mr Johnson later added: ‘We have always understood that the limitations of No 10 would make it impossible at all times to enforce full social distancing, so to speak with an electric force field around each individual.’

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Social distancing “imperfectly observed”

“Unfair Committee”

The former prime minister also accused the committee of being unfair and said he found ‘nothing incriminating’ – a theme he returned to in his declaration of resignation.

He claimed they banned him from posting a “large number of excerpts” that he relied on in his defence.

“It is patently unfair. Instead, and in the absence of any evidence that I deliberately misled Parliament, the committee is trying to mount an argument that I should have known the guidelines were not followed,” he added.




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