Boris Johnson quits as MP and claims 'kangaroo court' privileges committee tried to 'drive him out'

9 June 2023, 20:06 | Updated: 9 June 2023, 23:10

Boris Johnson is stepping down as an MP
Boris Johnson is stepping down as an MP. Picture: Cabinet Office/Getty

By Kit Heren

Boris Johnson has quit as an MP after receiving the findings of the privileges committee into whether he knowingly lied to his fellow MPs over Partygate.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Mr Johnson has been under investigation about whether he knowingly misled the House of Commons over Partygate, whose legitimacy he questioned.

He has admitted misleading Parliament over lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, but denied doing so on purpose.

Announcing his resignation on Friday night from his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London, Mr Johnson accused the privileges committee of "egregious bias", adding that he was "bewildered and appalled".

He said: "Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of facts. This is the very definition of a kangaroo court."

Listen and subscribe to Guto Harri's Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Boris Johnson has stepped down as an MP
Boris Johnson has stepped down as an MP. Picture: Getty

Mr Johnson said that he had been "forced out, anti-democratically, by a committee chaired and managed, by [Labour MP] Harriet Harman, with such egregious bias."

He also criticised the initial investigation led by civil servant Sue Gray, whom Labour have gone on to court for a senior role in leader Sir Keir Starmer's office.

Mr Johnson added: "Nor do I believe that it is any coincidence that her supposedly impartial chief counsel, Daniel Stilitz KC, turned out to be a strong Labour supporter who repeatedly tweeted personal attacks on me and the government."

The privileges committee has since confirmed it will be meeting on Monday to conclude the inquiry so it can “publish its report promptly” following Mr Johnson's criticism of the report in his resignation.

A spokesman for the Privileges Committee said: "The Committee has followed the procedures and the mandate of the House at all times and will continue to do so.

"Mr Johnson has departed from the processes of the House and has impugned the integrity of the House by his statement. The Committee will meet on Monday to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly."

Reports suggest the committee ruled that he did lie to the Commons by saying that Covid rules were followed in Downing Street over Partygate allegations from during the pandemic.

The committee was allegedly planning to recommend a 10-day suspension for Mr Johnson from the Commons, which would have led to a recall petition among his constituents, opening it up to a potential by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

Boris Johnson broke lockdown rules
Boris Johnson broke lockdown rules. Picture: Cabinet Office

The former Prime Minister also said: "I have received a letter from the Privileges Committee making it clear - much to my amazement - that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament."

He added: "They have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons."

Mr Johnson, who was fined by the Met over a Downing Street event - one of more than 120 penalties handed out by the force because of Partygate - previously insisted through spokespeople that he is cooperating fully with the inquiry.

He had denied every "knowingly, deliberately or wittingly" misleading Parliament when he spoke to MPs about claims of events.

Boris Johnson broke lockdown rules
Boris Johnson broke lockdown rules. Picture: Cabinet Office

Mr Johnson said: "They know perfectly well that when I spoke in the Commons I was saying what I believed sincerely to be true and what I had been briefed to say, like any other minister.

"They know that I corrected the record as soon as possible; and they know that I and every other senior official and minister - including the current Prime Minister and the then occupant of the same building, Rishi Sunak - believed we were working lawfully together.

"I have been an MP since 2001. I take my responsibilities seriously."

Read more: Dame Priti Patel and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg: Boris's honours list rewards allies as Labour condemns 'sickening insult'

Read more: Boris Johnson Partygate: What happened and why is he being investigated?

Lewis Goodall reacts: Boris Johnson resigns

LBC's Lewis Goodall said in reaction to the news: "So, all out war with Rishi Sunak. Boris Johnson is leaving the political battlefield.

“He has dominated the political stage in this country. Whether you like it or dislike it, he’s been one of the major players over the last 10 year– 15 years in British politics.

“He is a consequential prime minister because of his actions over Brexit. He oversaw the biggest calamity to happen to this country in over 70 years, overseeing the most extraordinary government reaction to it but also one that was characterised often by chaos. One that was characterised by his own hospitalisation.

“His career has been nothing if not consistently dramatic and he finds himself now at its end.”

Boris Johnson has stepped down with immediate effect
Boris Johnson has stepped down with immediate effect. Picture: Getty

It comes after Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list was announced today, which has been criticised for its inclusion of staff involved in the party gate scandal.

Mr Johnson also used his statement to take aim at his successor, Rishi Sunak. "When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened," Mr Johnson said.

"Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.

"We need to show how we are making the most of Brexit and we need in the next months to be setting out a pro-growth and pro-investment agenda. We need to cut business and personal taxes - and not just as pre-election gimmicks - rather than endlessly putting them up. We must not be afraid to be a properly Conservative government.

He added: "Why have we so passively abandoned the prospect of a Free Trade Deal with the US?

"Why have we junked measures to help people into housing or to scrap EU directives or to promote animal welfare? We need to deliver on the 2019 manifesto, which was endorsed by 14 million."

Both Dame Priti Patel and Sir Simon Clarke have denied rumours that they are also planning to hand in their resignation.

Boris Johnson took aim at his successor and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Boris Johnson took aim at his successor and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

The resignation of Mr Johnson, who stepped down in the wake of the Partygate scandal last summer, will trigger a by-election.

It comes just hours after his key ally Nadine Dorries also said she would quit as an MP - meaning the Conservatives will face the possibility of losing two seats in quick succession.

Mr Johnson was Prime Minister from 2019 to 2022. He had first been an MP from 2001-2008, before quitting to run for Mayor of London. He served two terms in that role to 2016, when he returned to Parliament.

The seven-day poll shares average for this week, ending June 9, found a 13-point gap between Labour on 43% and the Tories on 30% – and the gap has been wider than that in recent months.

Opposition MPs were quick to condemn Mr Johnson following his announcement. Deputy leader for the Labour Party Angela Rayner said: "As Boris Johnson exits in disgrace, the British public are sick to the back teeth of this never ending Tory soap opera played out at their expense."

Labour MP Nadia Whittome said: "Don’t let him spin this as a “remainer witch-hunt”.

"Boris Johnson has been exposed for what he is: a Prime Minister who broke the laws he made and then repeatedly lied about it. Simple as that. Good riddance."

His successor as London mayor Sadiq Khan said: "Hours after the PM sends Boris Johnson's mates to the Lords - he resigns after a serious breach of Parliamentary rules. This Government is beyond a joke".

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP who also announced her resignation this week, said: "Everyone knew he was not fit to hold public office before he was even an MP.

"Yet Tories made him their leader & look what happened. Evading scrutiny to the last & choosing to quit just hours after gifting gongs & peerages in atrocious act of patronage & sleaze."

Mr Johnson has been hit by multiple political scandals in the last few years.
Mr Johnson has been hit by multiple political scandals in the last few years. Picture: Alamy

But allies defended him. Former Home Secretary and one of Mr Johnson's close allies, Priti Patel, who was announced on the former PM's honours list today, said: "Boris Johnson has served our country and his constituency with distinction.

"He led world in supporting Ukraine, got Brexit done, and was our most electorally successful prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.

"Boris is a political titan whose legacy will stand the test of time."

Tory MP Eddie Hughes for Bloxwich, Willenhall and Walsall North said: "When Boris came to Bloxwich in 2019, the high street came to a standstill. Everyone wanted to wish him well or get a selfie.

"Buses stopped while the driver and the passengers took photos.

"No one else in British politics has the same affinity with the public."

Nadine Dorries, who stepped down as an MP hours before Mr Johnson and also reshared Mr Hughes' comments on the former Prime Minister.

In a statement Richard Mills, chairman of Uxbridge & South Ruislip Conservative Association, said it had been an "honour and privilege" to work with Boris Johnson since he was elected as the constituency's MP in 2015.

Mr Mills added: "Contrary to external perception his commitment to the constituency over the last eight years has been outstanding and he has delivered for the communities across Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

"From supporting local businesses and charities and ensuring a tunnel and further migration against HS2, to protecting Uxbridge police station and putting additional police officers on the street; he has delivered on his promises to local residents.

"We respect his decision to stand down as our local MP in response to the outcomes proposed by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee in a coordinated campaign against him.

"Boris has been the driving force behind a new Hillingdon Hospital and now that planning and funding has been approved for this, it will be a fitting legacy for him in Uxbridge & South Ruislip."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Middle East is 'on the brink'

'The Middle East is on the brink,' UN chief warns, as Israel approves plan of attack after huge Iranian onslaught

Elections 2024 Media Debates

News organisations urge Joe Biden and Donald Trump to agree to debates

Survivors of the attack are set to sue MI5

Hundreds of survivors of Manchester Arena bombing to sue MI5

The UK is set to experience some warm, dry weather

Two-week period when Brits to bask in warm, dry weather revealed, after cold period ahead

Lennix died after being hit by a car on Saturday

Parents pay tribute to 'happy go lucky' son, 8, killed in crash while riding scooter on quiet Wiltshire road

Damien Guerot stepped in in Sydney

Builder who wielded bollard to defend children from rampaging Sydney knifeman says attacker's 'eyes were empty'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel approves plan of attack after foiling massive Iran onslaught, as world leaders call for 'stabilisation'

The G7 have condemned the Iran attack on Israel

G7 leaders condemn Iran's 'unprecedented' attack on Israel and say they 'stand ready to take further measures'

Russia Ukraine War

More civilians die in Ukraine amid warning US aid delays will hamper Kyiv forces

The minibus lying on its side

Seventeen rushed to hospital after bus carrying football fans overturns on motorway in multiple car smash

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy and Paloma Faith join celebrities demanding Government act over Sudan

Dawn Singleton was among six victims of the stabbings

Police officer fiancé of Sydney stabbing victim 'discovered she had been killed after being scrambled to the scene'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel says Iran conflict 'not over' and vows to 'collect a price when timing is right', as US urges restraint

Poland Abortion

Polish opponents of abortion march against recent steps to liberalise strict law

A boy, 8, was killed in the incident.

Boy, 8, dies after crash on quiet Wiltshire cul-de-sac