UK lawmakers prepare to release report on Boris Johnson and ‘partygate’

LONDON (AP) — Lawmakers are expected to release a long-awaited report on Thursday into whether former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament about parties flouting the COVID lockdown at his Downing Street office. .

Parliament’s Privileges Committee has spent 14 months investigating Johnson’s conduct regarding “partygate”, a series of boozy gatherings in his office that breached strict COVID-19 restrictions his government had imposed on the country.

Johnson, 58, angrily resigned as lawmaker on Friday after the committee gave him advance notice that he would be disciplined. He described the seven-member committee – which included both ruling Tories and opposition party members – as a ‘kangaroo court’ and accused political opponents of chasing him on a ‘witch hunt’ “.

On Wednesday, the day before the report was released, Johnson also called on the panel’s longest-serving Conservative member, Bernard Jenkin, to resign after claiming he himself had breached pandemic restrictions.

Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, said the move was a “typical Boris Johnson distraction tactic which does not change the fact that he broke the law and lied about it”.

Had he been found guilty of lying and contempt of Parliament, Johnson would have been suspended from the House of Commons. A suspension of 10 days or more would have meant Johnson’s voters in his suburban London seat could have called for him to be ousted and elected a new lawmaker.

Johnson’s decision to quit parliament means he can no longer be suspended, and his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat will be contested in a special election next month.

Johnson and his wife, Carrie, were fined by the Metropolitan Police last year for breaking COVID laws at a birthday party for Johnson at his Downing Street residence and office in June 2020.

Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also among dozens of people fined for a series of office parties and “wine Fridays” in 2020 and 2021 at government buildings.

Revelations of the alcohol-fueled gatherings, which took place at a time when millions were barred from seeing loved ones or even attending family funerals, angered many Britons and added to a series of ethics scandals that led to Johnson’s downfall. Johnson resigned as prime minister last summer after a mass exodus of government officials protesting his leadership.

Johnson acknowledged the misleading lawmakers when he assured them no rules were broken, but he insisted he didn’t do it on purpose.

In March, he told the committee he “honestly believed” that the five rallies he had attended, including the dispatch of a staff member and his own surprise birthday party, were “work rallies lawful” intended to boost the morale of overworked staff members struggling with a fatal incident. pandemic.

He also said he had been assured by ‘trusted advisers’ that neither legally binding rules nor government coronavirus guidelines had been breached.

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