In a decisive vote, Members of Parliament (MPs) have supported a report revealing that Boris Johnson intentionally deceived MPs regarding the existence of lockdown parties held at Downing Street. The Commons vote in favour of the report was overwhelming, with 354 MPs supporting it and only seven voting against it.
The cross-party committee, responsible for investigating the allegations, found that Mr Johnson had repeatedly committed offences by falsely claiming that COVID-19 rules had been strictly followed at No. 10 Downing Street. Despite several allies of Boris Johnson questioning the committee’s impartiality and expressing their intention to vote against the report, prominent Conservatives such as former Prime Minister Theresa May, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan supported the report’s findings.
Absentees and Abstentions: 225 MPs fail to record their vote
Among the Conservative MPs who voted against the report were Sir Bill Cash, Nick Fletcher, Adam Holloway, Karl McCartney, Joy Morrissey, and Heather Wheeler, while 118 Tories voted in favour. Additionally, 225 MPs did not have their vote recorded as they either abstained or failed to attend the voting session.
Mr Johnson had urged his supporters not to vote against the report, with sources close to him arguing that the vote would have no practical effect now that he has resigned as Prime Minister. However, critics of the former Prime Minister suggested that his request aimed to conceal his diminishing support among Tory MPs.
Allies Who Spoke but Did Not Vote: Rees-Mogg and Nici’s Involvement in the Debate
During the debate, some Johnson allies, including Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Lia Nici, spoke but did not vote. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not attend the debate and refused to disclose his hypothetical vote, indicating his desire not to influence others. The Liberal Democrats condemned Mr Sunak’s absence, accusing him of a “cowardly cop-out.” Daisy Cooper, the party’s deputy leader, stated that Mr Sunak’s failure to vote exemplified the Prime Minister’s lack of leadership.
The Labour Party’s spokesperson criticized Mr Sunak, describing him as “too weak to lead a party too divided to govern.”
As a consequence of the vote, Mr Johnson will lose his parliamentary pass. That grants access to specific areas of Parliament, in accordance with one of the report’s recommendations. The Privileges Committee, composed of MPs with a Conservative majority, had been tasked with investigating whether Mr Johnson misled MPs regarding his knowledge of parties held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 lockdowns, commonly referred to as the Partygate scandal.
Recommended Sanctions: 90-day suspension and denial of parliamentary pass
The committee’s report concluded that Mr Johnson deliberately provided misleading statements to Parliament concerning events at No. 10 Downing Street. Prior to the report’s publication, Mr Johnson announced his resignation as an MP and labelled the committee a “kangaroo court.” The report further found that Mr Johnson’s attacks on the committee amounted to additional “contempt” of Parliament. Thereby increasing the recommended sanction’s severity.
The committee subsequently recommended a 90-day suspension for Mr Johnson—a notably lengthy ban by recent standards. And the denial of his parliamentary pass, which is typically granted to former MPs. If Mr Johnson had still been an MP, this suspension could have triggered a by-election in his constituency.
During the Commons debate preceding the vote, Theresa May emphasized that supporting the report would be a “small but important step in restoring people’s trust” in Parliament. She stressed the significance of demonstrating to the public that there is equality before the law. And that all MPs acknowledge their responsibility to the people they serve, thereby aiding the restoration of faith in parliamentary democracy.
Throughout the debate, supporters of Boris Johnson expressed dissent toward the report’s findings.