Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally made the decision to step away from his political career, at least for the time being. He resigned as Member of Parliament last week and rejected the conclusions of a parliamentary committee that accused him of knowingly misleading lawmakers regarding Covid rule violations.
The Privileges Committee proposed not only a 90-day suspension for Johnson, which could have resulted in a by-election and potentially cost him his parliamentary seat, but also recommended denying him a parliamentary pass, a privilege typically granted to former MPs.
Perhaps Johnson had it coming. Here are the facts about Johnson’s parties, gatherings and get-togethers, while the real good people of the nation that he led and forced into lockdowns watched their loved ones die alone, unattended, as their lungs filled up with fluids from the coronavirus.
That committee found that “when he told the House and this Committee that the rules and guidance were being complied with, his own knowledge was such that he deliberately misled the House and this Committee.”
It said it would have recommended a suspension of 90 days from the House of Commons for Johnson if he had not resigned, adding: “if he had not resigned his seat, we would have recommended that he be suspended from the service of the House for 90 days for repeated contempts and for seeking to undermine the parliamentary process”.
And yes, there were many acts of contempt for Parliament throughout his tenure as Prime Minister. Forget not that we had the spectacle of Johnson lying to the late Queen Elizabeth in his attempts to prorogue parliament so as to stifle debate on Brexit. And yes, the highest court in the land found that to be true.
There were many other instances, but as far as the committee looking into Partygate and his behaviour was concerned, there were five acts of contempt.
These were deliberately misleading parliament; misleading the committee; breaching the confidence of the committee; “impugning the committee and thereby undermining the democratic process”; and being complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the committee. Yes. Boris is a lying bully.
Buyer’s remorse in the UK
The committee said: “We have concluded above that in deliberately misleading the House Mr Johnson committed a serious contempt. The contempt was all the more serious because it was committed by the Prime Minister, the most senior member of the government. There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House.”
Putting that into plain English, never before has there been such a case at such a scale at such a height in British history.
The committee said: “We came to the view that some of Mr Johnson’s denials and explanations were so disingenuous that they were by their very nature deliberate attempts to mislead the Committee and the House, while others demonstrated deliberation because of the frequency with which he closed his mind to the truth.”
Former members of parliament are normally entitled to a pass that gives them access to parliamentary estate. Not now for Boris. “In view of the fact that Mr Johnson is no longer a member,” the committee said, “we recommend that he should not be granted a former member’s pass.”
If only voters had known that then. But when he and other Brexiteers stood in front of television cameras and social media, in newspapers and on radio, promising that everything would be just fine if only the United Kingdom left the European Union.
It’s not. Two-thirds of Britons have buyer’s remorse when it comes to Brexit. All of the economic indicators and statistics since Brexit occurred point to it being an unmitigated disaster, sold to an unwitting public besotted by Boris.
Two members of parliament on the committee — one Labour and the other from the Scottish National Party — wanted Johnson to be expelled from parliament. But the final report and sanction was signed off unanimously by all seven members.
The committee listed six events in Downing Street where lockdown rules were not observed and concluded that Johnson could not have believed that these were “essential for work purposes”.
The report said it is “unlikely on the balance of probabilities that Mr Johnson, in the light of his cumulative direct personal experience of these events, could have genuinely believed that the rules or guidance were being complied with”.
One of those social events took place on the night before the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh. The image the next day of Queen Elizabeth, sitting alone, quietly mourning, observing all of the rules made by Johnson on social distancing, forever is etched in so many people’s minds.
For everything that she stood for, grace, dignity, service, unity, while her Prime Minister did not.
There is no doubt about it: this report has inflicted significant damage on Johnson, and he is undoubtedly going to take a long time to recover from it.