British MPs approved on Thursday 21 the opening of a parliamentary inquiry into the accusation against Prime Minister Boris Johnson of knowingly misleading Parliament on the “Partygate”, these evenings organized in Downing Street despite restrictions in place in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic.
A lie that does not pass. Boris Johnson initially denied that he and his teams had violated the containment measures introduced in the country in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus. MPs approved a motion asking a parliamentary committee to determine whether he was in contempt of the House of Commons, as police fined him for breaches of health rules.
The case threatened Boris Johnson’s position as head of the UK government earlier this year, when a number of MPs from his own Conservative Party called for his resignation. The motion passed unopposed. If he admitted to having made an error of judgment, Boris Johnson affirmed not to have knowingly misled the Parliament. On Tuesday, he asked the deputies for forgiveness. On an official trip to India, the Prime Minister was not present at the time of the vote.
“The gig is over”
During the debate preceding the vote, Conservative Steve Baker, one of the leading figures in the campaign to leave the European Union, said that Boris Johnson should resign. He accused the Prime Minister of breaking the ‘letter and spirit’ of the law, adding that Boris Johnson ‘should now be long gone’, ‘the gig was over’.
“The Prime Minister has been accused of repeatedly, deliberately and routinely misleading the House about parties being held in Downing Street during lockdown,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said. “It is a serious and serious accusation, it amounts to contempt of Parliament,” he added to the elected officials.
The government had sought to delay MPs’ votes until police had completed their own investigations, which could lead to additional fines against the prime minister. But the government finally withdrew the tabling of the amendment just before the start of the debates in the lower house. Conservative elected officials have expressed their discomfort at the idea of having to oppose a thorough examination of the actions of Boris Johnson, which have damaged the confidence of the British in the government.
Criticized within his party
Boris Johnson’s spokesman claimed the Tories had been told they could vote as they pleased or even opt out of the vote. Tory MP William Wragg, a critic of his party leader, has called again for Boris Johnson to step down. “I cannot come to terms with the prime minister continuing to lead our country,” he said. “The party bears the scars of its leadership’s misjudgments…it is quite disheartening to have to defend the indefensible.”
Deliberately misleading Parliament is a breach of the ministerial code and, by convention, ministers who do so are expected to resign. To force Boris Johnson to leave his post, 54 of the 360 elected Conservatives must send a letter of no-confidence to the chairman of the “Committee of 1922”, a parliamentary group of the Tories in the House of Commons.