The former prime minister has claimed that he was forced out as an MP over the ‘Partygate’ scandal
Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson has resigned as a member of Parliament, saying political rivals forced him out of office by making disingenuous allegations over his handling of the ‘Partygate’ scandal, which involved lockdown-violating parties at 10 Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am now being forced out of Parliament by a tiny handful of people with no evidence to back up their assertions – and without the approval even of Conservative Party members, let alone the wider electorate,” Johnson said on Friday in a statement. “I believe that a dangerous and unsettling precedent is being set.” He added that his removal is the “necessary first step” for lawmakers who want to overturn the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Johnson stepped down, effective immediately, after he received a copy of a yet-to-be-published report by a parliamentary committee that investigated misleading statements he made to the House of Commons regarding Partygate. He argued that the report was “riddled with inaccuracies” and that the committee hadn’t produced evidence that he “knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons.”
“They know perfectly well that when I spoke in the Commons, I was saying what I believed sincerely to be true and what I had been briefed to say, like any other minister,” Johnson said. “They know that I corrected the record as soon as possible, and they know that I and every other senior official and minister – including the current prime minister and then-occupant of the same building, Rishi Sunak – believed that we were working lawfully together.”
The Privileges Committee probe was headed by Labour Party MP Harriet Harman. Johnson claimed that she and some other committee members made prejudicial remarks about his alleged guilt even before examining the evidence, and their aim was to prevent him from helping the Conservative Party to win the next election.
“Their purpose from the beginning was to find me guilty, regardless of the facts,” Johnson said. “This is the very definition of a kangaroo court.” He added that the investigation process gave him no formal ability to challenge the committee’s findings.
The Privileges Committee reportedly recommended a lengthy suspension of Johnson from the House of Commons, which would have led to a by-election in his district. The former PM hinted at a return to politics: “It’s very sad to be leaving Parliament – at least for now – but above all, I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out, anti-democratically, by a committee chaired and managed by Harriet Harman with such egregious bias.”