The UK parliament has voted to uphold a finding that Boris Johnson knowingly misled lawmakers when he said that Covid lockdown rules had been followed at all times in Downing Street while he was prime minister.
The House of Commons Privileges Committee report, published last week, found that Johnson “committed a serious contempt” of parliament when he told lawmakers that rules were followed, despite revelations of illegal parties in Downing Street during a national lockdown. Many people working inside Downing Street, including Johnson and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, were fined by police.
Not only did the committee report that Johnson had knowingly misled parliament, they also said that in giving evidence to their inquiry he had continued to misled the committee itself when he was giving evidence in his defense.
The vote passed the House of Commons by 354 to 7. It was expected that the vote would pass, because a number of Johnson’s fellow Conservatives were not present and abstained.
Johnson’s most vocal supporters, who defended him throughout and heavily criticized the committee, were reportedly encouraged by Johnson not to vote so as not to lend the decision credibility.
Johnson would have been sanctioned with a lengthy ban from parliament and denied a pass to access the building, a right afforded to former members of parliament. But Johnson has already stood down as an MP, so will neither serve the ban nor face the by-election that would have been triggered as a result of the ban.
Sunak and the rest of the Conservative Party will now hope the issue of Johnson and the scandals that brought down his government can be left in the past as they move forward. However, Sunak and his party currently trail in the polls.
Sunak came to power after Johnson’s immediate successor, Liz Truss, made controversial spending and budget cuts that caused an economic meltdown.
Sunak’s pitch was that he would bring calm to what had been a chaotic political scene. He has to some extent achieved that, but his poll numbers have only marginally improved, which is making his own MPs nervous.