Boris Johnson: MPs should vote to end Partygate inquiry, says Tory who dropped inquiry
MPs are expected to hold a vote on whether to end Partygate’s investigation into whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament, said the Tory MP who quit the inquiry.
Laura Farris said the ‘context has fundamentally changed’ since Mr Johnson was replaced as Prime Minister by Liz Truss – questioning the need to probe his remarks on No 10 rallies during the Covid crisis .
Ms Farris revealed she had decided to withdraw from the All-Party Privileges Committee inquiry because the Ministerial Code ‘does not apply’ to Mr Johnson since his resignation as Prime Minister.
In her first interview since stepping down, speaking before the Queen died, she said The telegraphThe last political podcast of: “I left because I understood that we were really on this question of the ministerial code.”
The MP for Newbury added: ‘And of course he is no longer Prime Minister so the ministerial code does not apply.’
Ms Farris argued MPs should vote again on whether to drop the inquiry, saying there was ‘a sensible argument that the House should be asked again about its views on this matter “.
She added: “If there was a debate, people would make arguments, maybe different arguments. I think it may be fair for the House to have the opportunity to consider the matter again before taking the next step.
However, the committee has made it clear that the investigation will continue. “Our investigation, however, is about whether the House was misled, and political developments have nothing to do with that,” the all-party group said.
Ms Truss’ government has dropped plans by Mr Johnson to appoint controversial Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope – best known for thwarting legislation by backbench MPs – as Ms Farris’s replacement.
Shortly before leaving No 10, Mr Johnson also sought legal advice from Lord Pannick – at a reported cost of £130,000 – who claimed the terms of the committee’s inquiry were ‘unfair’ and could be deemed “illegal” by the courts.
The QC leader argued the privileges committee failed to draw a clear distinction between whether or not Mr Johnson had intentionally misled MPs by saying he was unaware of which parties were in breach the rules.
Allies have questioned whether he ‘deliberately’ misled Parliament during the Partygate saga. But his “intent” is irrelevant to deciding whether he is in contempt, the committee said.
The committee’s terms of reference state that whether the Prime Minister “deliberately” misled the House “may become one of the key questions of the inquiry.” But it is not necessarily crucial to decide whether he was in contempt of Parliament.
Senior Labor MP Chris Bryant – who recused himself from the Privileges Committee inquiry into his previous criticisms of Mr Johnson – said it was ‘very strange’ that Lord Pannick was ‘trying to tell the House of the municipalities what to do”.
Nadine Dorries, Mr Johnson’s staunchest ally, claimed the views commissioned by Lord Pannick showed ‘the inquiry was a biased, Kafkaesque witch hunt’.