The Privileges Committee have found that Boris Johnson deliberately lied to MPs about lockdown-breaking parties during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The committee, which probes breaches of House of Commons rules, found that Johnson was guilty of:
repeated contempts (of parliament) and… seeking to undermine the parliamentary process.
In a scorching report, the committee said:
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.
The committee is made up of a majority of Conservative MPs. They’re able to recommend sanctions on rule-breakers. However, MPs must vote to ratify the ruling. On this occasion, the committee chose to sanction Johnson with a 90-day suspension. However, in a characteristic fit of fuckwittery, Johnson resigned as an MP just days before the report came out.
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Not only did Johnson quit as MP, he did so by claiming that he was stitched up by political opponents in what he called a “kangaroo court.” And, once the report itself was actually released to the public, he doubled down. He called the report “deranged” and the 14-month inquiry into his statements to parliament a “charade”.
He insisted that his attendance at the Downing Street parties in question was “lawful, and required” by his job. This sits in stark opposition to the fact that Johnson resigned as prime minister in the summer of 2022 after facing pressure over partygate and a string of other scandals.
Of course, in the wake of partygate the police fined Johnson and dozens of government officials for breaking social distancing laws which the government set to curtail the spread of coronavirus. Months of newspaper revelations about alcohol-fuelled gatherings caused widespread public outrage.
Johnson’s behaviour in relation to the Privileges Committee itself, however, came in for swift censure from the committee themselves.They said that his critical comments about the committee lengthened his suspension as they ruled that he was:
complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the committee.
We came to the view that some of Mr Johnson’s denials and explanations were so disingenuous that they were by their very nature deliberate attempts to mislead the committee and the House, while others demonstrated deliberation because of the frequency with which he closed his mind to the truth.
Revealing details of some of the report’s conclusions last week before it was published was also “a very serious contempt”.
Unrepentant as always
In an angry and lengthy statement Johnson showed, once again, that basic facts have little impact on his conduct. He wrote:
This is a dreadful day for MPs and for democracy.
Barring invasion from a Global South country coming to put us out of our misery and install democracy for us, what else does Johnson think is going to happen here? Now, let’s get to reactions from people who are likely sick of having to respond to Johnson’s constant bullshit.
Jeremy Corbyn, rather than seeing this as a dreadful day for democracy, urged reflection:
Boris Johnson lied his way to power, but he did not do so alone.
Today should be a day of reflection for all those in Parliament & in our media who indulged in his dishonesty.
For those of us who believed in something different, we will carry on fighting for a fairer world. pic.twitter.com/C9tdqPD16F
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 15, 2023
Biologist Kit Yates dismissed Johnson’s apparent fury:
Apparently Boris Johnson is “furious” about the Privileges Committee report.
You don't get to break the law while the rest of us were sticking to it, lie to parliament about it and then get to be mad when you are held to account.
We have the monopoly on anger on this one.
— Kit Yates (@Kit_Yates_Maths) June 15, 2023
Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu explained exactly who Boris Johnson is:
Boris Johnson must be stripped of everything including ex-PM allowance of up to £115k yr.
A disgraced lying, cheating, dishonest, contemptuous, no contrition, self-serving coward who resigned instead of taking responsibility for misleading Parliament & Country.
Strip The Filth! pic.twitter.com/gPIyprne3f
— Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu (@SholaMos1) June 15, 2023
Amongst all the political infighting, scientist Christina Pagel pointed out something that will matter to many bereaved families:
It's not just the weekly wine Fridays, the birthday & leaving parties, not just the repeated lying to parliament & public.
It's that Boris Johnson gave daily press briefing for months explaining the severity of the situation and why we need to follow the rules. Unforgiveable. https://t.co/IkJHgM3aWS
— Prof. Christina Pagel (@chrischirp) June 15, 2023
Send in the clowns
Of course, Pagel rightly points out what this whole partygate business is really about. It’s one thing to have lying politicians – that’s sadly normalised in our political system. It’s quite another to have one set of rules for the public and another set of rules for politicians.
Johnson being the man that he is, he won’t take any of this with anything approaching grace or humility. The real death knell for our political system, however, is that clowns like him are exactly what you get from an elite system that privileges the moneyed few and appoints them to run the country.
There are plenty of politicians like Boris Johnson – more’s the pity.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
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