Good morning. Boris Johnson has been found to have made “deliberate” attempts to mislead the House of Commons and the parliamentary committee investigating him — to no one’s particular surprise. The committee, which has a Conservative majority, unanimously voted for a 90-day suspension, well clear of the threshold for a recall.

Johnson jumped before he was pushed. But the committee’s recommendation he should not be issued an ex-member’s pass means that the report is not quite a dead letter. Rishi Sunak will have to decide how to respond. For now, the exit of Johnson (and two of his allies, though Nadine Dorries has yet to make her exit official) has changed the internal politics of the Tory party. Some thoughts on that below.

You’re yes and you’re no

Katy Balls’ cover story for this week’s Spectator is an unmissable account of the state of the Tory party, and the various attempts to mount a fairly “well-aimed political assassination campaign” against Rishi Sunak. She traces the present row back to Sunak and Boris Johnson’s behind-the-scenes negotiations after the fall of Liz Truss.

My read on all this is that as long as Johnson remained in the House of Commons, he was going to do everything he could to get Sunak and that now he is gone, the prime minister’s position at the top of the Conservative party is considerably more secure. But the alternative reading, as Katy puts well, is not so good for Sunak:

Sunak had managed to keep the peace using two arguments: first, that he was a financier who could calm the markets, so mortgage rates would stop surging; second, that it was unite or die. Eight months into his leadership, three of his MPs have chosen the “die” option.

Essentially, do you see this as the moment that Sunak emerged as his party’s dominant figure, freed of his enemies, or as the moment when the Conservative party gave in to infighting and despair? Yes, it’s true to say that defeat in all three by-elections is “priced in”.

But nothing about the heavy defeat the Tory party suffered in May was unexpected, either — yet it still triggered a bout of introspection and fatalism. There is no way of knowing how the parliamentary party will react if the Conservatives lose all three by-elections.

Nonetheless, it remains the case that Sunak is both freed from his biggest opponent and any sense that there is some way he can keep Johnson or his allies on side. It’s true to say this week has seen a big shift in the internal balance of forces within the Conservative party. But one reason why it is not wholly clear if this has been a good or a bad week for Sunak is that the prime minister himself doesn’t quite know whether he would rather govern with the aid of his right flank or if he prefers to govern with the support of his party’s left and the various opposition parties.

Now try this

Although I have not yet read Demon Copperhead, I have very much enjoyed all of Barbara Kingsolver’s previous work (with the exception of The Bean Trees, which I found a little twee) so I am very pleased that she has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction a second time. Given it is now out in paperback, I will kick Demon Copperhead right to the top of my “to read” list. Mia Levitin’s review is here. A while ago Kingsolver went to lunch with the FT’s investment reporter Madison Darbyshire in Appalachia, and their stirring conversation is here.

Top stories today

  • Johnson guilty | The FT got the scoop that Boris Johnson will be found to have committed “multiple” contempts of parliament in a report by MPs into his conduct as prime minister, according to people close to the inquiry.

  • Pain for households | HSBC is raising mortgage rates for the second time in a week, a move expected to be copied by other lenders that will ramp up the political danger for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

  • Northern Ireland braced for projected £1bn deficit | More than a year of political crisis in Northern Ireland has not only raised fears of irreparable damage to struggling public services in one of the UK’s poorest regions but has also highlighted how its volatile politics have undermined its ability to manage its finances.

  • Homebody | Retired doctors in England will be able to carry out consultations from home to plug NHS workforce gaps, the head of the health service has announced, but employers warned that the plan was “a sticking plaster” given the scale of staff shortages.

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