Partygate report to make Boris a 'martyr', allies say, as ex-PM demands top Tory MP on Privileges Committee resigns

15 June 2023, 00:00

Allies of Boris Johnson believe the Privileges Committee&squot;s report will make him a "martyr"
Allies of Boris Johnson believe the Privileges Committee's report will make him a "martyr". Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The long-awaited report into whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament over lockdown-busting parties will make the former prime minister a "martyr", his allies have claimed.

The Privileges Committee is expected to publish its findings on whether Mr Johnson knowingly or misled Parliament over 'Partygate' at 9am on Thursday.

The 30,000-word report would have recommended a significant suspension from the House of Commons for Mr Johnson - had he not furiously quit as an MP after learning the report's findings.

The damning report will find that his claim that senior officials inside No10 gave him assurances that Covid rules had been followed does not hold true.

It will conclude, however, that Mr Johnson was in fact warned by senior officials not to make this claim.

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But allies of Mr Johnson will try and make the ex-PM out to be a "martyr", with one ally telling The Times: "This is going to light the fires among the membership.

"There is a narrative for a comeback that wasn’t really there before."

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is expected to label the Committee's findings a "travesty of justice" and "disgraceful".

Boris Johnson was questioned by the Privileges Committee earlier this year
Boris Johnson was questioned by the Privileges Committee earlier this year. Picture: Parliament

It comes after Mr Johnson urged a senior Tory MP sitting on the Committee to quit should an allegation that he broke lockdown rules be upheld.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, a Tory MP who sits on the Committee, is alleged to have attended a drinks event in December 2020, while London was in Tier 2 measures restricting indoor mixing.

If this is found to be true, Mr Johnson - who this week resigned as an MP after finding out the Committee's findings - said the MP must resign.

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In a statement, the former prime minister said: "Bernard Jenkin has just voted to expel me from Parliament for allegedly trying to conceal from Parliament my knowledge of illicit events.

"Now it turns out he may have for the whole time known that he himself attended an event - and concealed this from the Privileges Committee and the whole House for the last year.

"To borrow the language of the committee, if this is the case, he 'must have known' he was in breach of the rules.

"He has no choice but to explain his actions to his own committee, for his colleagues to investigate and then to resign."

Boris Johnson resigned after reading the Privileges Committee report
Boris Johnson resigned after reading the Privileges Committee report. Picture: Getty

Guido Fawkes alleges that the gathering involving Sir Bernard took place in Parliament on December 8, 2020, six days after London entered Tier 2 restrictions.

Indoor mixing was banned and the rule of six was in place outside, and bars and pubs could only serve alcohol alongside "substantial" meals.

Sir Bernard has been contacted.

Read More: 'Boris Johnson - an incontinent Labrador, weeing and pooing all over the place': James O'Brien takes aim at the ex-PM

Read More: 'They have no excuse for delay': Boris Johnson calls on Privileges Committee to publish 'nonsense' report

Mr Johnson's attendance at lockdown-busting parties, dubbed 'Partygate', already led to the Metropolitan Police issuing him 126 fixed-penalty notices for Covid breaches across Downing Street and Whitehall.

But the former Tory MP has been highly critical of the committee and its members, labelling it a "kangaroo court".

Nonetheless, Mr Johnson felt the need to resign before its findings were made public.

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A by-election in his former Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency will now take place.

Mr Johnson's ally Nigel Adams also resigned, while arch-supporter Nadine Dorries has announced she will quit as an MP too.

But Ms Dorries has delayed her resignation until she gets more information from the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC) on why she was denied a peerage.

It comes in a week where Mr Johnson publicly clashed with Rishi Sunak, accusing him of "talking rubbish" over his resignation honours list.

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