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By Ben Guerin
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Penny Mordaunt Asks MPs To Do "What Is Right" On Boris Johnson Partygate Vote

Penny Mordaunt said MPs will have a free vote on the report's finding (Alamy)

4 min read

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt has said the vote over sanctions on Boris Johnson will be a “painful process” for MPs but that they should be “left alone” to “do what we think is right”.

The Privileges Committee report published today, would have recommended banning Boris Johnson from attending parliament for 90 days as a sanction for misleading parliament over what he knew about Downing Street parties held during lockdown, had he not already resigned as an MP. 

Mordaunt addressed the Commons to confirm that MPs will still vote on Monday over whether to endorse the recommendations made by the committee. It is expected to be a free vote, meaning MPs will not be whipped to vote a certain way.

The Conservative MP expressed the government's and her own support for the report findings that concluded Johnson did mislead the House multiple times, and in doing so committed a serious contempt of parliament.

"We have to look at the evidence, we have to look at the report," Mordaunt insisted, advising her colleagues that they should allow the committee and Parliament to carry out their work. 

"But we are talking about people who are friends and colleagues. It will be a painful process and a sad process for all of us, the task that we face on Monday.

"But all of us must do what we think is right and others must leave us alone to do so."

She said that it was “worth reminding” other MPs that the committee’s job is to defend the House and the rights and privileges of members.

“The membership of the committee was established again unanimously by this house and as many members have pointed out, it had a conservative majority on it,” she said.

“My advice to all right honourable members, having had the committee carry out the work we asked them to do, is to read the report and make their own judgments about it and take the task seriously and soberly.

“And members should use their own judgement on that.”

Mordaunt’s comments follow a number of Conservative MPs, including staunch Johnson allies Nadine Dorries, Brendan Clarke-Smith, Simon Clarke and Andrea Jenkyns, who have already spoken out in support of the former prime minister and to criticise the report. 

Dorries, former culture secretary under Johnson, went as far to suggest that the report’s conclusions had been “pre-determined” and criticised any colleagues who would vote in favour of it. 

“This report has overreached and revealed its true pre-determined intentions,” she tweeted.

“It’s quite bizarre. Harman declared her position before it began.

“Any Conservative MP who would vote for this report is fundamentally not a Conservative and will be held to account by members and the public. Deselections may follow. It’s serious. 

“MPs will now have to show this committee what real justice looks like and how it’s done.”

Clarke said he was “amazed” by the report’s “harshness” and said he would vote against it on Monday, while Clarke-Smith said he was appalled by the report’s “spiteful, vindictive and overreaching conclusions”.

In response to Mordaunt’s comments in the House, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Thangam Debbonaire said the findings questioned the validity of Johnson’s controversial honours list, which was finally approved this week. 

“Boris Johnson lied. He lied to MPs. He lied to the people of this country. He lied to nurses, doctors, care workers, bus drivers, everyone who was putting their own lives at risk during the pandemic,” she said.

“This all brings into question the validity of Johnson's resignation honours list and the Prime Minister's support for it.

“With a law breaker and a liar rewarding his cronies, will the leader call on the Prime Minister to show some leadership for once and cancel these dishonourable honours?”

The Labour MP criticised Sunak for allowing tax-payer money to go towards Johnson’s legal fees during the partygate scandal.

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