Boris Johnson Doesn't Want MPs To Vote Against Partygate Sanctions
Former prime minister Boris Johnson (Alamy)
Monday's Commons vote on the Privileges Committee's findings that Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament over Downing Street parties during lockdown may now be nodded through after Boris Johnson is believed to have advised his backers to not vote against it.
On Thursday, Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt confirmed that a Commons vote would be held on the committee's recommendation that Johnson would be given a 90 day ban had he not pre-emptively resigned as an MP, and that his entitlement to a former members pass would be rescinded.
However, PoliticsHome understands that Johnson has since advised his supporters to not vote against the committee's findings.
The shift in tone, first reported by Politico, could mean the matter is not pushed to a vote, which would have made public which Tory MPs were willing to public support Johnson and which had voted against the findings. Most Tory MPs were already expected to abstain on the vote.
Monday’s vote is currently due to be a free vote rather than being whipped either way. Tories had also been told that the vote would be a one-line whip, meaning they would not be obliged to participate.
The report concluded that Johnson did mislead the House about breaches of lockdown rules in Downing Street when he was in No 10.
“We conclude that Mr Johnson’s persistence in putting forward this unsustainable interpretation of the Guidance is both disingenuous and a retrospective contrivance to mislead the House and this Committee,” the report said.
The Conservative party continues to be divided on the committee’s findings, with a number of MPs who had previously committed to voting against the report.
Among them was a former Tory party chairman, who this morning accused the privileges committee of trying to “gag” MPs.
Jake Berry told Good Morning Britain that he was “almost certain that parliament will vote in favour of this report” but said that he would be “one of those in the no lobby opposing” the findings.
“For the first time in my parliamentary career, I'm afraid to talk about a report or the findings of the Committee of Parliament because they have threatened MPs that if they do so, they themselves will be subject to these sorts of sanctions," the MP for Rossendale and Darwen added.
"It's an attack on free speech. It's an absolute disgrace and it rather begs the question that if the committee is so certain, and so happy with their findings, why are they trying to stop any debate in this to gag MPs and prevent them talking about it."
However, others have signalled support for the committee and the findings.
Damian Green, chair of the One Nation caucus of centrist Conservative MPs, said that it is “important that Parliament respects its own systems”.
While many MPs were expected to abstain, but Green said that doing so would be “not really rising to the importance of the occasion”.
“Clearly, it is very, very unusual – if not unique to have this kind of report on a former prime minister – I'm going to vote for it with with a heavy heart with with sadness because I worked in government for time with with Boris Johnson, sat around the Cabinet table with him," he told the BBC.
“So I don't want to be doing this. But as I say, it seems to me the report is very clear cut, and that Parliament should respect its own procedures.”
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