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Monday, June 24, 2024

Boris Johnson to step down as MP


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London: Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson has stepped down as a Tory MP after claiming he was “forced out of Parliament” over Partygate, media reports said.

The UK ex-PM saw in advance a report by the Commons Privileges Committee investigating if he misled the Commons over Downing Street lockdown parties.

In an explosive and lengthy statement, he called the committee a “kangaroo court” whose purpose “has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts”.

The committee said it had “followed the procedures and the mandate”.

The cross-party committee of MPs – the majority of which are Conservative – added it would conclude its inquiry on Monday and “publish its report promptly”, according to media reports.

Mr Johnson’s resignation now triggers a by-election in his marginal constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, BBC news reports.

Delivering his announcement late on Friday evening, Johnson said the draft report he had seen was “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice”, adding it was clear the committee was “determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament”.

“They have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons,” he said, insisting “I did not lie”.

He also accused its chairwoman, Labour’s Harriet Harman, of “egregious bias”, saying he was “bewildered and appalled” at how he was being forced out.

The ex-prime minister previously admitted misleading Parliament when he gave evidence to the committee in a combative hearing in March – but denied doing it on purpose.

He said social distancing had not been “perfect” at gatherings in Downing Street during Covid lockdowns but insisted the guidelines, as he understood them, were followed at all times.

Johnson also used his letter to attack the direction of the government, saying “we must not be afraid to be properly Conservative” and warning the party’s majority was at risk.

“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,” Johnson argued.

“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?”

It was a direct aim at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – hours after he stepped off a plane from Washington where Sunak was not talking about a free trade agreement with the US.

And Johnson’s statement was an attempt to rally Brexiteers in his party, suggesting his demise was driven by a motivation to “reverse the 2016 referendum result”.

Johnson was prime minister from July 2019 until September 2022 and has been an MP since 2001 – although not continuously, having served as mayor of London between 2008 and 2016

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