9 JUNE 2023 | NEWS
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced tonight that he will be standing down as an MP immediately. It is understood in Westminster that this follows his receipt of the investigation report into the ‘Partygate’ scandal.
The report was commissioned by the Government in order to determine whether or not Mr Johnson – whether knowingly or unknowingly – misled the House of Commons as to the nature of certain gatherings during the Covid lockdown period, for one of which he received a fine.
Mr Johnson’s resignation will trigger a by-election, which follows the news reported earlier tonight that Nadine Dorries (the former Culture Secretary) will also be standing down with immediate effect. Ms Dorries is a well-known ally of Mr Johnson.
Mr Johnson’s full resignation letter can be read here:
Calling the report’s conclusions a “dangerous precedent”, he accused them of being “riddled with inaccuracies and [reeking] of prejudice”, lamenting his own inability under the formal process to respond to them. He also alleged that he is “now being forced out of Parliament by a tiny handful of people, with no evidence to back up their assertions”.
He added that certain members of the Committee appeared, in his view, to have determined the outcome of the investigation before actually conducting it, alleging that they had “wilfully chosen to ignore the truth” and describing them as a “kangaroo court”.
He further reflected upon his decision to resign as an MP as being an electoral boon to the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, alleging that they would “do whatever they can to remove [him] from Parliament”.
Mr Johnson went on to fondly recollect upon his own record as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, while setting out his view that he had been the victim of a “witch-hunt” – setting a “dangerous and unsettling precedent” – among other things to “take revenge for Brexit”, with a potential view to reversing the result of 2016’s referendum on the UK leaving the European Union.
Citing the fact that Sue Gray, the senior civil servant who was in charge of the investigation into alleged gatherings at Number 10 during the Covid lockdowns, has now accepted a position as Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Opposition, he went on to criticise the current administration.
In particular, he mentioned his belief in the need to cut taxes – rather than raising them – and lamented the lack of a free trade deal with the United States, as well as the retention of EU laws post-Brexit.
He further accused those conducting the investigation of wilfully misconstruing the evidence he gave to the House, saying they had “still not produced a shred of evidence that [he] knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons”.
Referring to the fact that the the Conservative Government’s poll ratings now lag behind those of the Opposition considerably, he also criticised the present Government’s policy on its handling of Brexit and its abandonment of principles set out in its most recent election Manifesto – composed while he was still the party leader in 2019.
He did not acknowledge that circumstances in relation to the country’s finances have changed since those commitments were made.
Mr Johnson also took aim at Harriet Harman, the Labour MP tasked with conducting the investigation and producing the report, saying: “I had looked forward to providing enthusiastic support as a backbench MP. Harriet Harman’s Committee has set out to make that objective completely untenable.”
Notably, however, in closing, he did also hint at a potential return in the future, saying: “It is very sad to be leaving Parliament – at least for now – but above all, I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out, anti-democratically”.
(The above underlining is our own emphasis – Ed.)
But if he were to do so, he would most likely need to seek to stand in a different constituency, which he has done before (he was previously the MP for Henley before becoming Mayor of London).
Polling from Britain Elects shows that Mr Johnson’s seat in Uxbridge and South Ruislip would be taken by Labour if a General Election were to be held tomorrow:
Wolves understands that a significant outcry has already arisen this evening amongst members of the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO).
This is an initiative launched recently to attempt to reform the way the Conservative Party selects candidates and elects officers, such as its Chair. It was founded by Lord Cruddas and is chaired by former Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman.
There has not yet been an opportunity to request a comment at the time of publication.