Boris Johnson will face parliamentary investigation over Partygate after MPs agree to refer Prime Minister

The investigation will conclude whether he lied to MPs about the Downing Street parties during coronavirus lockdowns

Published Last updated

MPs have agreed to refer Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a parliamentary investigation into whether he lied to the Commons about Downing Street parties taking place during coronavirus lockdowns.

The Labour motion on Thursday passed without a vote after receiving no objections, with No 10 opting against tabling its own delay amendment.

The decision means MPs on the Privileges Committee will investigate whether Mr Johnson is in contempt of Parliament for misleading the Commons with his repeated denials of lockdown-busting parties in No 10.

The probe will only begin after Scotland Yard has completed its own inquiry into alleged coronavirus law breaches at the heart of Government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face a parliamentary investigation over Partygate
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face a parliamentary investigation over Partygate

Mr Johnson – who is away from the Commons on an official visit to India – insists he is content to face extra scrutiny, with the parliamentary investigation adding to inquiries conducted by the Metropolitan Police and senior civil servant Sue Gray.

This will prolong the Partygate scandal and some Tory MPs’ patience with the Prime Minister is wearing thin.

In a blow to Mr Johnson, former minister Steve Baker, an influential organiser on the Tory benches, said the Prime Minister “should be long gone”.

Mr Baker, who was a prominent Brexiteer involved in ousting Theresa May, said: “Really, the Prime Minister should just know the gig’s up.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaving Downing Street

Tory MPs had initially been ordered to back a Government amendment which would defer any decision on referring the matter to the committee until after the conclusion of the Met Police inquiry.

But in a late U-turn shortly before the debate began, Tory MPs were given a free vote.

The move appeared to confirm speculation at Westminster that a significant number of Conservatives were not prepared to back the Government’s attempt to kick the issue into the long grass.

The scale of discontent was set out by Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman William Wragg, who confirmed he had submitted a letter of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership.

He told MPs: “I cannot reconcile myself to the Prime Minister’s continued leadership of our country and the Conservative Party.”

In a scathing speech, Mr Wragg said: “There can be few colleagues on this side of the House I would contend who are truly enjoying being Members of Parliament at the moment.

“It is utterly depressing to be asked to defend the indefensible. Each time part of us withers.”

Mr Johnson was unable to escape the scandal during his visit to Ahmedabad, with the issue dominating a round of broadcast interviews.

The Prime Minister insisted he has “absolutely nothing, frankly, to hide” as he explained why he had dropped the attempt to delay a decision on the investigation.

He told Sky News: “People were saying it looks like we are trying to stop stuff. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want people to be able say that.”

He said he remains confident of leading the Tories into the next general election.

More to follow...