In a decisive vote of 354 to seven, British Members of Parliament (MPs) have given their approval to a report by the House of Commons committee. This report concludes that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson intentionally deceived Parliament regarding COVID lockdown violations that took place during parties at Downing Street. Despite repeated inquiries in the Commons, the 59-year-old Johnson consistently denied any breaches of lockdown rules within government premises.
Upon learning of the findings of the Privileges Committee report, Johnson has already resigned as the Member of Parliament for West London. Consequently, he will no longer enjoy the privileges granted to former MPs, including special access to Parliament. The report’s revelations prompted a gathering of many of Johnson’s colleagues and members of the opposition in the Commons on Monday, where the majority expressed condemnation of the former prime minister’s actions.
Interestingly, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, along with several other Tory MPs, chose not to participate in the debate or provide commentary on the report’s findings. This absence was highlighted by several opposition Labour Party MPs during the extended session.
While Johnson’s loyal supporters rallied to defend him and criticised the cross-party Privileges Committee, the former prime minister himself referred to it as a “kangaroo court” engaged in a “witch hunt” against him at the time of his resignation earlier this month. One of Johnson’s staunch allies, Mr. Rees-Mogg, argued that it is entirely legitimate to critique the conduct and composition of the Privileges Committee, as politics in the UK is inherently adversarial. He emphasised the paramount importance of freedom of speech outside the parliamentary chamber, stating that individuals are allowed to express their opinions freely.
The committee’s report shed light on specific instances during 2020 and 2021 when the House of Commons may have been misled by Johnson’s assertions that no rules or guidance had been violated during successive COVID lockdowns in the UK.