Partygate: Boris Johnson faced a humiliating 90 day suspension for misleading parliament

150623-boris johnson-PA
Credit: PA

Boris Johnson would have faced a humiliating suspension of 90 days from the Commons for deliberately misleading MPs, had he not quit his seat in protest.

The former prime minister has also been found to have been “complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation” of the Privileges Committee.

In the findings of a cross-party investigation, released today, the Privileges Committee recommends that if Boris Johnson were still an MP, he should be suspended for a humiliating 90 days "for repeated contempts and for seeking to undermine parliamentary process by deliberately misleading the house, deliberately misleading the committee, breaching confidence, impugning the committee and thereby undermining the democratic process of the house, and being complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the committee".

It also recommends stripping Johnson of the pass that would entitle him to continue to use parliament's facilities.

MPs see Johnson as a kind of British Trump, trying to undermine parliament.

In response Johnson says the committee is complicit in a "final knife thrust in a protracted political assassination".

The Privileges Committee says that Johnson's disclosure of its provisional findings and public attack on them, before they had been agreed and signed off, was a serious escalation of his abuse of parliamentary rules.

He would have been suspended for more than 10 days in any case, which would have triggered the process that could have led to a by election, but this further contempt ratcheted up the sanction to a breathtaking three months.

In appealing to the court of public opinion, Johnson exponentially increased the damage to his reputation in parliament.

Boris Johnson greets reporters while out on a run on Thursday morning, ahead of the publication of the scathing report

It is also very important to note that every member of the privileges committee, including every Tory MP, concluded that Boris Johnson should be suspended for more than 10 days, the threshold of a possible by-election, even before he committed the contempt of leaking and attacking the committee's report.

"We unanimously concluded that the minimum sanction we should recommend to the House should be suspension from the service of the House sufficient to engage the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act," the report says.

They decided on this sanction because: "We have concluded...that in deliberately misleading the House Mr Johnson committed a serious contempt.

"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.

"He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly.

"He declined our invitation to reconsider his assertions that what he said to the House was truthful.

"His defence to the allegation that he misled was an ex post facto justification and no more than an artifice. He misled the Committee in the presentation of his evidence."

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