In a shocking and ground-breaking report, a parliamentary committee found that former United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson “intentionally misled” lawmakers over violations of his own Covid-19 lockdown rules. According to media reports, the committee also lambasted Johnson’s behaviour and recommended that he be denied a pass to enter the parliamentary estate.
The committee’s report stated that Johnson “committed a serious contempt” of parliament when he claimed that rules were always followed after the so-called “Partygate” affair exposed unauthorised gatherings at Downing Street.
The conclusions essentially amount to a historic admonishment of a former prime minister who, after winning an overwhelming electoral victory less than four years ago, had his political career crumble under the weight of a number of scandals, as per a report published in CNN. The Privileges Committee wrote in its report, published on Thursday, “The contempt was all the more serious because it was committed by the Prime Minister, the most senior member of the government. There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House.”
What the committee said?
The members also wrote, “He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly. The members added that Johnson also misled the committee when he presented evidence in his defence. Days before the report was to be released, Johnson abruptly resigned as an MP on Friday, overturning the committee’s recommendation that he be punished long enough to call a by-election in his district.
But in light of his resignation, the study added a further severe recommendation: Johnson is denied a former member’s pass to enter parliament, a longstanding convention for ex-MPs. The probe by the committee, the majority of whom are from Johnson’s Conservative Party, has come to a close. Johnson and some of his allies have criticised the committee as a “kangaroo court.” But it may not end the Partygate saga. MPs must now vote to accept the report’s conclusions, a potentially humiliating process that will undoubtedly highlight differences between Johnson’s parliamentary allies and the current prime minister Rishi Sunak, who has recently tried to distance himself from Johnson, as per CNN.
The main subject of the investigation was Johnson’s actions during the Covid-19 pandemic when he served as prime minister and was discovered by police to have broken his own guidelines. This inquest examined whether Johnson intentionally mislead legislators in the House of Commons when he informed them that he was unaware of the parties, as opposed to a police investigation and a separate parliamentary inquiry into the parties themselves.
‘conclusions of report undisputed and unanimous’
Its conclusions were undisputed and unanimous. The report said, “We think it highly unlikely on the balance of probabilities that Mr Johnson … could have genuinely believed at the time of his statements to the House that the Rules or Guidance were being complied with.” The report chastises Johnson for his criticisms of the committee’s objectivity and finds that his testimony and his resignation from the House of Commons both constituted several instances of contempt of parliament.
Calling Johnson’s language “vitriolic” and “completely unacceptable,” the committee wrote in its report, “This attack on a committee carrying out its remit from the democratically elected House itself amounts to an attack on our democratic institutions.” Johnson has been engaged in a verbal battle with Sunak, his eventual successor and former chancellor (finance minister). He and two of his partners announced their intention to resign from the House of Representatives over the weekend, necessitating three challenging by-elections for a government that is now wallowing in the polls.
(With ANI inputs)