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Labour Publishes Plan To Hold Investigation Into Whether PM Misled Parliament Over Partygate

4 min read

Labour has set out details of its plan to hold a vote on whether Boris Johnson should be investigated into claims he misled parliament over parties held in Downing Street and Whitehall during lockdown.

The motion, that will put to a House of Commons vote on Thursday, says the Prime Minister should be investigated by MPs on the privileges committee once the Met Police has finished its own investigation into the parties. The Met investigation is ongoing and has already resulted in 50 Fixed Penalty Notices being issued to those involved including Johnson, his wife Carrie, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

A Labour spokesperson said waiting for the Met to conclude its work will mean it cannot be argued by Johnson's supporters that a privileges committee investigation would somehow "cut across" the police investigation.

"It's right that the police investigation is allowed to proceed and there can be no excuse made that somehow this would cut across that," they said on Wednesday afternoon.

"There is still work for the privileges committee to do. There is still plenty of information to come out."

They urged Conservative MPs to "vote with their conscience" in tomorrow's vote but did not speculate on how many might defy the Tory whip by deciding to not vote with the government.

Chris Bryant, the Labour MP who chairs the priveleges committee, said this afternoon he would let another MP chair the committee during the investigation into Johnson, should it come to pass. Some Conservative MPs had expressed concern about a Labour MP chairing the investigation.

Labour published details of its motion as a bitter war of words broke out between the opposition and the government after Downing Street accused Keir Starmer and his party of using "reckless" language that could lead to the safety of MPs being "compromised" ahead of next month's next local elections.

A Downing Street source said some of the language used by Starmer and Labour MPs in response to Johnson's House of Commons statement on Tuesday amounted to "reckless visceral hatred".

"There was a lot of reckless visceral hatred from the opposing benches yesterday, a deliberate whipping up of hysteria that could lead to compromising the safety of MPs, particularly in the run up to local elections," they told PoliticsHome.

A Labour spokesperson called this allegation "contemptible," however.

"Words speak for themselves," they told PoliticsHome. "It's totally inappropriate to bring that sort of analogy into these conversations."

On Tuesday, Starmer said the Prime Minister was "dishonest and incapable of changing" after Johnson insisted that he did not realise he was breaking lockdown laws when attended a rule-breaking gathering in Downing Street in June 2020. 

“Even now, as the latest mealy-mouthed apology stumbles out of one side of his mouth, a new set of deflections and distortions pour from the other," the Labour leader said.

He also told the "story" of John Robinson, a constituent of Conservative MP Michael Fabricant. Starmer said Robinson was not with his wife in hospital when she died during lockdown because he chose to follow the government's Covid regulations — rules, the Labour leader said, that "we now know the Prime Minister blithely, repeatedly and deliberately ignored". 

Fabricant, the Tory MP for Lichfield, this morning claimed Starmer and other politicians were trying to "weaponise the personal tragedies" of people like his constituent.


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