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by Kirsteen Paterson
15 June 2023
Conservative party under fire as MPs react to Boris Johnson report

Boris Johnson pictured ahead of his appearance before the Privileges Committee in March

Conservative party under fire as MPs react to Boris Johnson report

The Conservative party is under fire after MPs ruled that Boris Johnson did deliberately mislead parliament over partygate in an "unprecedented" act.

The Privileges Committee today recommended a 90-day suspension for Johnson after he repeatedly denied that rules had been breached in Downing Street during lockdown.

Two MPs wanted to see him expelled from the House instead.

However, the former prime minister stood down as an MP before the report was published and now faces the potential loss of the former members' pass that would have allowed him back onto the parliamentary estate for meetings and lunches.

His resignation means a by-election will now take place in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency and, with a debate on the report's recommendations scheduled for Monday, some parliamentarians have turned their fire on the Conservative party itself.

As SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn called for the costs of the inquiry to be recouped and Johnson's allowance as a former prime minister to be removed, his deputy Mhairi Black called the findings "utterly damning" for "this arrogant Tory government". She said: "Johnson may have left parliament but his toxic legacy continues with yet another out-of-touch Tory prime minister imposing Brexit, cuts and attacks on devolution against Scotland's will."

Her party colleague Pete Wishart said the report exposed "the full scale and horror of Johnson's repeated lies and contempt for democracy", adding: "The question now is why on earth did the Conservative party put up with this and allow him to dominate our public life for so long?"

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner called Johnson a "pound shop [Donald] Trump", while Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray commented: "The Privileges Committee, that has a Tory majority, [is] recommending a massive 90-day suspension for Johnson for deliberately misleading the House. He has scarpered off before he could meet his judgement to avoid taking responsibility. The conclusions are damning."

The Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "It's there in black and white: Boris Johnson is a liar. Now Johnson has left parliament, it's time to show the Tories the door in Uxbridge and South Ruislip too. Londoners and the whole country deserve so much better."

Meanwhile, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said: "Boris Johnson is a liar and a law-breaker. He's treated the public with utter disdain. And while the Conservatives fight among themselves again, the country suffers. People are fed up. Rishi Sunak should call a general election and give people the chance to end this charade."

However, Johnson himself has called the report a "protracted political assassination", saying he had first thought of the committee's inquiry as a "stunt by Labour" and slating its findings as "rubbish".

He said the panel had found "not a shred of evidence" to show that he knew the lockdown gatherings at Number 10 were wrong: "I did not for one moment think they were illicit – at the time or when I spoke in the Commons."

He stated: "This is a dreadful day for MPs and for democracy. This decision means that no MP is free from vendetta, or expulsion on trumped-up charges by a tiny minority who want to see him or her gone from the Commons."

Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith tweeted in support of Johnson, saying: "I am appalled at what I have read and the spiteful, vindictive and overreaching conclusions of the report.

"I won't be supporting the recommendations and will be speaking against them both publicly and in the House on Monday.

"I'm backing fairness and justice – not kangaroo courts."

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