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Boris Johnson’s Resignation and the Conclusion of Partygate

boris johnson

After Boris Johnson’s resignation on Friday following the Privileges Committee report which concluded the former Prime Minister had misled Parliament about lockdown parties in Downing Street, MPs will meet today to conclude the inquiry.

The report will be finalised shortly and is likely to be published this week.

The Privileges Committee Report

For almost a year, the privileges committee, made up of seven MPs who are mostly Conservatives, have been inquiring into whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament in relation to COVID-19 rule breaches carried out in Downing Street – due to the revelation that a series of parties were held, this ‘scandal’ became known as Partygate.

When giving evidence in March, Boris Johnson admitted to misleading Parliament, but denied the intention of doing this on purpose.

However, on Friday, the privileges committee sent a letter to the former Prime Minister confirming that they have found him liable for misleading Parliament. In a statement announcing his resignation from his constituency seat in Uxbridge, Boris Johnson described the committee as a “kangaroo court” trying to “drive him out of Parliament” and accused them of carrying out a “political hit job on someone they oppose”.

A by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip will now be held – a key battleground for the Labour Party due to the constituency’s marginal nature.

Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list

As a departing prime minister, Johnson has the right to nominate people for seats in the House of Lords, and for others honours such as knighthoods. By convention, current prime ministers pass on the list of nominees to The House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC) which can recommend their names do not go forward after a vetting process.

Johnson stood down from Parliament just hours after Downing Street published his resignation honours list without the names of key supporters, including Nadine Dorries, Sir Alok Sharma and Nigel Adams.

Within 24 hours of the list being published, both Ms Dorries and Mr Adams resigned as MPs – triggering by-elections in their constituencies, both of which are considered safe seats for the Conservatives.

All three MPs had been expecting to be appointed to the House of Lords. Competing claims about how and why the names were removed are now at the heart of a rift within the Tory party following the former PM’s resignation; Rishi Sunak has accused Boris Johnson of asking him to “make promises to people” and “overrule” a panel tasked with vetting his appointments to the House of Lords.

However, Sunak said he refused. “I wasn’t prepared to do that, I didn’t think that was right. And if people don’t like that, then tough,” he told a tech conference in London.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission has confirmed it rejected eight of Mr Johnson’s nominations on the grounds of propriety.

Responses

A spokesperson for the committee hit back at Johnson’s remarks saying the MPs in the privileges committee had followed proper processes and that Johnson had “impugned the integrity” of the Commons with his statement.

Michael Gove said he disagreed with Johnson’s description of the committee, adding that he had “respect” for their work. However, he refused to openly criticise Johnson’s premiership; arguing that what went wrong for Johnson is a matter “for historians”, Gove asserted “I think that all of us will want to be grateful for what [Boris Johnson] did during the pandemic”. Gove has also defended the decision to pass Johnson’s honours list to the King, insisting that this is a “seperate procedure”.

Opponents of Johnson are glad to see him go and a petition has been started online to block his honours list. It has received almost 400,000 signatures and “Sign the Petition” was trending this morning.

Final thought

The downfall of Boris Johnson has been a long-time coming to many and his honours list is causing much controversy. The by-election in Uxbridge will also be interesting to lookout for, considering its marginal nature.

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