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by Kirsteen Paterson
21 April 2022
Boris Johnson will face Commons investigation over partygate comments after Tory support crumbles

Boris Johnson will return from India to face further scrutiny

Boris Johnson will face Commons investigation over partygate comments after Tory support crumbles

Cross-party committee of MPs to examine statements

Boris Johnson faces a third probe into his partygate conduct after MPs approved a Labour-led plan to instruct Westminster's Privileges Committee to investigate.

MPs sitting on the cross-party panel will determine whether or not they believe the Prime Minister deliberately misled the House in comments made over the lockdown parties scandal.

If they do, it could see the PM told to apologise on the floor of the House, censured, suspended or even expelled from the House.

Such measures would only be taken after the recommended sanction was voted on by MPs.

The news follows a day of debate in which members of the Conservative Party were amongst those to condemn the Prime Minister's conduct.

He is on a two-day visit to India and was not present for the session.

But he has said he wants to stay on and intends to lead his party into the next general election.

Labour's motion was predicted to pass after the Conservatives abandoned a wrecking amendment and allowed MPs a free vote. 

There was no opposition from the government benches in the vote.

Summing up for Labour, Angela Rayner said: "The Prime Minister is leading the Conservative Party into the sewer. It's now up to members opposite to decide whether they follow him. It's up to members to decide whether it's a red line for the prime minister of this country to break the ministerial code, break the trust of the British public and get away with it."

She went on: "The only way of getting to the bottom of this issue and regaining the public confidence in our democracies is by respecting the processes that have been created to enshrine the rules of our parliament."

Speaking for the Conservatives, Paymaster General Michael Ellis said Johnson has already apologised repeatedly and is "mortified" by "what has happened". Ellis told the House: "He wishes he could have done things differently and that the clock could be turned back. He has apologised as this house has heard him do this week repeatedly for what has happened.

"And he has asked for the house forgiveness and for the ability to get on and serve the people of this country and delivering the opportunities brought about by his getting Brexit done, by leading the world in Covid vaccines and the Covid rollout, and by his clear leadership over the Ukraine issue. But I would like to make clear to the house that whilst the Metropolitan Police investigation is ongoing it is right that neither myself nor this House speculates on the detail of matters that are still under investigation.

"It is of the utmost importance that police processes can continue without risk of prejudice from this place or elsewhere. And whilst I acknowledge the points that many members have made, it is important that the House understands that we cannot preempt the outcome of an investigation that must be allowed to finish."

But there were no objections at the vote and the motion went through on the nod.

The committee will not begin its "substantive” work until the Metropolitan Police inquiry into partygate concludes. Earlier today it said no further fines would be issued until after the May 5 elections. However, Johnson, his wife Carrie and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have also so far been issued £50 fixed penalty notices.

In his speech, former Brexit minister Steve Baker said that he liked Johnson, but "if the Prime Minister occupied any other office of senior responsibility, if he was a secretary of state, if he was a minister of state, a parliamentary undersecretary, a permanent secretary, a director general, if he was a chief executive of a private company or a board director, he would be long gone".

Stating that "removing a sitting prime minister is an extremely grave matter", he said he had been "tempted to forgive" but "the prime minister should just know the gig’s up".

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