Did Boris Johnson deliberately mislead parliament? Have your say in our poll
Boris Johnson’s political future hangs in the balance as he faces a televised grilling over whether he lied to MPs with his denials of lockdown-busting parties held in Downing Street.
The former prime minister will be questioned for around four hours by the Commons Privileges Committee – a seven-member, cross-party command chaired by Labour grandee Harriet Harman.
If the Tory majority committee finds Mr Johnson deliberately misled the House, he could be suspended as an MP – potentially triggering a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.
Earlier on Wednesday, the committee published its “core bundle” of evidence, which includes No 10 official claiming that Mr Johnson “had the opportunity to shut down” lockdown gatherings in Downing Street but “allowed the culture to continue”.
Other key claims made against the ex-PM included Simon Case, Mr Johnson’s cabinet secretary, and Jack Doyle, then-comms chief, insisting they never told Mr Johnson Covid rules were followed.
Meanwhile, Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s ex-chief adviser turned key critic, said it was “comical” the former leader claimed to think a lockdown garden party was a work event. He said Mr Johnson “certainly knew it was a drinks party because I told him”.
Mr Johnson has always maintained his innocence, refuting any accusation that he “knowingly or recklessly misled Parliament”.
He set out his defence in a 52-page dossier, published yesterday, in which he stressed that he trusted the assurances of key aides and said that “hindsight is a wonderful thing”.
It is a defence that refers to the “cramped” workplace of No 10 as well as his own belief that no guidance or rules were being breached at any gathering.
He also claimed that he corrected the record at the “earliest opportunity” at the Metropolitan Police probe.
In the meantime, The Independent wants to know what you think. Did Boris Johnson deliberately mislead parliament over his knowledge of the rule-breaking parties in No 10? Take part in our poll to have your say:
The former prime minister also asserted that he believed his staff drinking wine was within the rules – claiming he and other No 10 officials believed gathering to drink alcohol was necessary for “work purposes”.
The committee’s afternoon session with Mr Johnson is due to start at 2pm.