Partygate: Boris Johnson may face by-election if found to have misled MPson July 21, 2022 at 11:58 am

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Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a Parliamentary inquiry into his conduct.

Boris JohnsonImage source, UK Parliament

Boris Johnson could face a by-election to remain as an MP if he is found to have misled Parliament over parties in Downing Street during lockdown.

The outgoing prime minister is facing a Parliamentary inquiry over what he told MPs about the events.

If it rules against him and he is suspended from the Commons for 10 days he could face a recall petition, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said.

Mr Johnson would be able to stand in any resulting by-election.

He has promised to cooperate with the ongoing inquiry into his conduct.

Mr Johnson told the Commons in January that Covid “guidance was followed” and the rules had been “followed at all times”.

But in April, he was fined by police for attending a birthday party in his honour in Downing Street during the first lockdown.

In May, he told MPs that, although his original statement had not been true, he had “believed it to be true” at the time.

Parliament’s cross-party Privileges Committee of MPs is investigating whether the prime minister misled Parliament.

Sir Lindsay said that, if the committee found Mr Johnson had done so, and he was suspended from the Commons chamber for 10 sitting days or more – or 14 calendar days – this would trigger a “recall petition” in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, in north-west London.

Under the rules, if 10% or more of eligible voters sign such a petition, a by-election must take place.

Mr Johnson would still be able to stand in the contest for a seat he won with a 7,210-vote majority at the 2019 general election.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Image source, PA Media

Much of the previous discussion of Mr Johnson’s remarks in the Commons over Partygate has focused on whether he deliberately, rather than accidentally, misled MPs.

But the committee has published advice from Eve Samson, the Commons’s top expert on parliamentary privilege, suggesting that “in broad terms, intention is not necessary for a contempt [of Parliament] to be committed”.

It also says its inquiry will continue despite Mr Johnson’s resignation as prime minister over Partygate and other controversies.

The committee intends to call Mr Johnson to give oral evidence in public in the autumn, under oath.

Asked if the prime minister would cooperate with the inquiry, his official spokesman said: “We have said we will assist the committee in their work.”

Mr Johnson is due to stand down on 5 September, when either Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or former Chancellor Rishi Sunak – the two remaining candidates in the Tory leadership contest – will replace him.

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