Michael Gove says only ‘historians’ can judge went wrong for Boris Johnson as MPs to conclude inquiry into Partygate

12 June 2023, 08:28 | Updated: 12 June 2023, 08:37

Michael Gove refused to be drawn on where it 'went wrong' for Boris Johnson
Michael Gove refused to be drawn on where it 'went wrong' for Boris Johnson. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Asher McShane

Michael Gove tried to repel an onslaught from Boris Johnson this morning as he refused to be drawn on what went wrong for the former PM, telling LBC it’s a matter "for historians."

Mr Johnson quit as he faces a damning verdict by the Commons Privileges Committee into whether he misled Parliament over the Partygate scandal.

Levelling-up Secretary Mr Gove diplomatically described Boris on LBC today as a “significant figure in the history of our times” and expressed “sadness at his passing” as an MP.

Mr Gove said: “I think him for the role he played in the pandemic, on Ukraine and on Brexit.

“I wouldn’t presume to offer Boris any advices for the future. I continue to respect Boris and all that he’s achieved.”

Mr Gove added that within government there was: “calm, focused, delivery oriented hard work going on every day.”

Boris Johnson's sister told LBC last night that "apart from Brexit and lockdown Boris was a superb and underrated PM".

It comes after senior Tories bluntly told the former PM is was time for him to "shut up and go away."

Tim Loughton, a former Tory minister, made the blunt remarks when discussing the former Prime Minister's fall from grace on Sunday.

Other Tories have also fled Boris - wanting to move on from his tenure ahead of next year's General Election.

He also branded Boris loyalists a "mob" in new comments as a civil war seems likely within the Conservatives.

Johnson's grappling with a Privileges Committee report into his Partygate conduct caused a domino effect which led to Nadine Dorries and loyalist Nigel Adams also standing down immediately to give Rishi Sunak a triple by-election headache.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a general election, adding Mr Sunak has "lost control of his government" following the trio of resignations.

Starmer writes: "Rishi Sunak must finally find a backbone, call an election, and let the public have their say on 13 years of Tory failure.

"This farce must stop. People have had enough," he continued, writing in The Sunday Mirror.

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Boris Johnson took a swipe at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in his resignation letter, labelling the committee investigation into &squot;partygate&squot; a "kangaroo court".
Boris Johnson took a swipe at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in his resignation letter, labelling the committee investigation into 'partygate' a "kangaroo court". Picture: LBC / Alamy

The news follows comments from Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, who received a knighthood as part of Boris Johnson's resignation honours list.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, Sir Jacob said: "I am not, unlike some of my fellow Boris admirers, resigning my Commons seat. I will fight my North East Somerset seat at the next election and campaign for a Conservative victory nationally."

"I would most strongly warn Conservative Party managers against any attempt to block Boris if he seeks the party nomination in another seat.

"Any attempt to do so would shatter our fragile party unity and plunge the Conservatives into civil war."

Read more: 'A carousel of cronies': Angela Rayner blasts 'gaslighting' Boris following former PM's resignation honours list

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

Adams, a loyal ally of Boris Johnson, announced on Twitter on Saturday he will be standing down with 'immediate effect' - the third such resignation in 24 hours.

The latest Tory resignation follows the former Prime Minister's decision to step down on Friday following committee findings into 'partygate' - a probe which Johnson branded a 'kangaroo court'.

The news means a by-election will now be triggered in Adams' constituency of Selby and Ainsty.

The North Yorkshire seat was won by the Conservatives in 2019 with a 20,137 majority.

The announcement was triggered after Adams, 58, posted to Twitter: 'Yesterday, Selby Conservatives selected an excellent new parliamentary candidate.'

Rachel Johnson shares her thoughts on her brother resigning

The news means a by-election will now be triggered in Adams' constituency of Selby and Ainsty.
The news means a by-election will now be triggered in Adams' constituency of Selby and Ainsty. Picture: LBC / Alamy

"I’ve today informed the chief whip that I will be standing down as a Member of Parliament with immediate effect.

Adding: "It has been an honour to represent the area where I was raised, educated".

It proves but the latest headache for PM Rishi Sunak as yet another by-election is triggered following the resignation of Nadine Dorries and Boris Johnson.

Adams added in a second Tweet: 'I want to thank my constituents for their wonderful support since 2010.'

Nigel Adams was Minister of State in the Cabinet Office between 15 September 2021 and 5 September 2022, having previously held the position of Minister for Asia at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and Minister of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

He was first elected the Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty in May 2010.

The trio of resignations has been described by some as a targeted attempt to undermine Rishi Sunak's premiership.

It's also not expected to be the last resignation in the coming days in an apparent show of solidarity for Johnson.

58-year-old Johnson claims he is the victim of a "witch hunt" over Partygate - revelations that saw the PM accused of breaking lockdown rules and misleading the Commons.

Adams had previously said he would quit at the next General Election but followed in the footsteps of Mr Johnson and Nadine Dorries by resigning now.

Andrew Marr on Boris Johnson: 'The jig is up.'

Mr Adams and Ms Dorries had both been expected to receive peerages in Mr Johnson's resignation honours list, however, neither names featured when it was released on Friday.

It comes ahead of the publication of the partygate probe, which is expected to reflect negatively on Johnson.

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