Boris Johnson To confront Inquiry Into Claims He Misled Parliament Over Pa…




MPs approve unopposed motion to set up inquiry into claims PM misled MPs over Partygate

Nigel Evans, the deputy Speaker, calls the vote. There are no objections, and so the motion goes by on the nod.

That method MPs have voted to cause a privileges committee inquiry into claims that Boris Johnson misled MPs over Partygate. You can read the motion in complete at 11.35am.

But the committee will not start its “substantive” work until the Met police inquiry into Partygate is over.

Updated at 11.40 EDT

This is from Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative chair of the Commons defence committee. It’s a message to his Tory colleagues. Ellwood has already said publicly that Boris Johnson should go.

An extraordinary 24 hours in Parliament.

It’s time to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

— Tobias Ellwood MP (@Tobias_Ellwood) April 21, 2022

The latest edition of the Guardian’s Politics Weekly podcast is out now. As MPs approve an unopposed motion to set up inquiry into claims Boris Johnson misled MPs over Partygate and the home secretary, Priti Patel, has been heavily criticised over the legality of her plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff stands in for John Harris, and asks what happens when ministers no longer seem afraid to push the boundaries of the law? Gaby is joined by Guardian parliamentary sketch writer John Crace and Dr Hannah White, deputy director of the Institute for Government and author of Held in Contempt.

Updated at 12.03 EDT

The barrister Adam Wagner, who is an expert on Covid restrictions, has posted a long and interesting thread on Twitter on the Met police’s decision not to publicise any further Partygate fines until after the local elections. It starts here.

Wagner is basic of the decision. Here are his conclusions.

To be fair to the Met, I can see why, reading NPCC guidance as a whole, they might thing “ooh we shouldn’t be releasing information” which could influence the election. But they are missing the point that deciding not to release information will itself influence the election.

— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) April 21, 2022

Also, they will not be releasing the name of any politicians, as per their policy. Just that FPNs have been issued. It is up to the politicians to say whether they have been given one.

— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) April 21, 2022

An anti-Tory banner being held up outside parliament today. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

MPs approve unopposed motion to set up inquiry into claims PM misled MPs over Partygate

Nigel Evans, the deputy Speaker, calls the vote. There are no objections, and so the motion goes by on the nod.

That method MPs have voted to cause a privileges committee inquiry into claims that Boris Johnson misled MPs over Partygate. You can read the motion in complete at 11.35am.

But the committee will not start its “substantive” work until the Met police inquiry into Partygate is over.

Updated at 11.40 EDT

Ellis says Boris Johnson’s comments made to MPs were in good faith.

He thought the event for which he was fined was allowed, he says.

He says there is a difference between a deliberate and an unexpected breach of the rules.

Karl Turner (Lab) asks if the PM’s view is that he did not understand the rules, or if they did not apply to him.

Ellis says that does not deserve a response.

He says the surprise birthday party was reported in the Times at the time. That shows that people did not think it was wrong,

Labour’s Angela Eagle asks if MPs will be able to see all 300 photographs of the parties, including those taken by the PM’s official photographer, once the police investigation is over.

Ellis says he cannot comment, because the police investigation is current.

Ellis says Labour has talked of using personalised attack ads against Conservative MPs.

He says Keir Starmer has moved a motion accusing the PM of misleading the house. But this morning Starmer himself apologised for misleading MPs at PMQs yesterday.

Boris Johnson is in India strengthening relations with a fellow democracy, he says.

At no time has Johnson said this issue is not important, he says.

He claims that at all times the PM has set out his version of events.

(That is not true. Johnson has repeatedly refused to answer detailed questions about the Partygate affair.)

Ellis says the government believes the privileges committee inquiry would take place after the Met inquiry, and after the publication of the Sue Gray report. The government wants to publish the Gray report as soon as possible after the police inquiry is over.

Michael Ellis, the Cabinet Office minister and paymaster general, is now winding up for the government. He claims he welcomes the chance to discuss the issue.

The chief minister has always been clear that he is happy to confront in any case inquiries parliament sets up, he says.

He says the government tabled an amendment because it wanted to be sure Sue Gray could publish her report without any further delay. But it now recognises that Labour’s motion would have much the same effect, so it is now happy to sustain it, he says.

He says the police investigation must be allowed to finish its inquiry. The privileges committee inquiry should take place after that point – as the opposition motion says.

Updated at 11.26 EDT

In the Commons Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, is now winding up for the opposition. She says today is a chance to protect the institution of parliament.

Honesty, integerity and the truth matter in politics, she says. She says they are British principles.

If MPs do not vote for this, they will not be forgiven, she says.

Updated at 11.24 EDT

And the SNP’s Pete Wishart told MPs in his speech that the Conservatives were going to get “hammered” in the local elections. He said:

I am not going to be reticent about elections. The police have just put out a statement to say there will be no more issuing of fines and no more comment until after the council elections.

This is now definitely in the mix, the elections are a characterize of all this because of that police statement.

I have to say to my Conservative colleagues over there, you are going to get hammered, absolutely hammered. The public are outraged.

I have got a local authority that is Conservative in Perthshire and we have got one message on our leaflet which says: ‘As you obeyed the rules, the Tories partied. Kick them out.’

That will be, I speculate, going on most leaflets in later elections until he is replaced and he is removed.

Updated at 11.18 EDT

In her speech in the argue Labour’s Jess Phillips criticised the amount of time it had taken Boris Johnson to apologise for Partygate. She said:

I could have had a baby in the time it has taken the apology to come. It would have been less painful. The reality is that along that nine months what we have seen is not somebody taking the actions to desperately try and preserve the thing that we all came here to do. It has been to desperately try and preserve his own position. And that that to me is unforgivable.

Everything that he has sought to do has been about him. He cannot answer a simple question. You don’t have to wait for a police investigation. I asked him a question … four months ago now: ‘Did you go to this party in your flat on this date?’ And he said ‘I can’t answer because there’s a police investigation.’

Well, I’ll tell you what, there’s a police investigation into that and I can say I didn’t go to a party at his house that day. There you go, I wasn’t at that party. It hasn’t affected the police investigation.

The fact that what he has done shows a without of contrition because it wasn’t upfront. It has never been upfront.

This is from my colleague Jessica Elgot, making the point, although today marks a victory for the opposition, defeat would have had its advantages.

Labour are going to have to pulp those leaflets

— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) April 21, 2022

Here is a question from below the line.

Andrew, am I right that if the committee suspended Johnson for 10 days that would be grounds for ingemination? Might be mixing up my committees…

Basic

The Labour MP Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons standards committee and the Commons privileges committee, has got an answer. He says a 10-day suspension on the recommendation from the standards committee can create the conditions for a ingemination appeal, leading to a byelection. The privileges committee is a different body. But Bryant indicates the legislation is ambiguous, and could cover the privileges committee too.

A ingemination appeal applies following a report from Cttee on Standards, if the Commons orders an MP’s suspension for ten days or more. But the 2015 Act also says the Cttee is any Commons ‘cttee concerned with the standards of conduct of individual members’. Privileges? or not?

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) April 21, 2022

In practice, if the privileges committee were to conclude that Boris Johnson knowingly misled MPs, he would probably be forced to resign anyway – in spite of of whether or not it recommended a 10-day suspension, and in spite of of whether or not that counted under the ingemination legislation. Under the ministerial code, a minister who has knowingly misled parliament is expected to resign.

ingemination would affect whether Johnson were able to keep as an MP. But if Johnson were no longer PM and Tory leader, it is hard to imagine him wanting to keep an MP for long anway.

The Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall told MPs in his speech in the argue that he could not forgive Boris Johnson for misleading the Commons. He said:

Every day that I see issues and rules broken in this place only reaffirms my belief that we have to stand up in this place and make it clear that dishonesty, that inaction and misleading of the House cannot be tolerated from anyone.

Now, when I put that letter in [calling for a no confidence vote in the PM], I asked for changes. I asked for changes in the operation of how No 10 was organised. I asked for changes in how the whipping system might work. And I’m pleased to say some of those changes have come in, but unfortunately not enough …

I do forgive the chief minister for making those mistakes, but I do not forgive him for misleading the house, as I see it.

The argue is nevertheless going on, but there are no more Conservative backbenchers trying to speak. We are just getting opposition MPs.

But Michael Ellis, the Cabinet Office minister, will be winding up for the government.

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