The House of Commons privileges committee has delivered a blistering verdict on Boris Johnson’s conduct in the partygate scandal.

The seven-member, cross-party committee published a 108-page report on Thursday following a 14-month investigation into the former prime minister. 

The committee has been probing whether Johnson deliberately misled parliament after stating, while premier, that Covid-19 rules were followed at all times following media reports of Downing Street parties held during pandemic restrictions. Below are five takeaways from the publication of the report.

1. Johnson committed ‘repeated contempts’ of parliament

The former prime minister was found by the privileges committee to have committed multiple contempts of parliament by lying to MPs with his denials that parties took place in Number 10 during coronavirus restrictions.

The MPs on the committee also concluded Johnson was complicit in “a campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation” against the panel.

The report found some of 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”.

As parliament regulates its own affairs, the committee had been given a mandate to determine whether Johnson had committed any “contempt” — an offence defined as an act or omission that obstructs or impedes the House of Commons in the performance of its functions, and any appropriate sanction.

2. Johnson would have faced a 90-day suspension from the Commons

The committee said it would have recommended a 90-day suspension from the Commons for Johnson if he had not pre-empted such an outcome by quitting as an MP last Friday.

The proposed sanction was nine times the length of the suspension required to trigger a so-called recall petition, which would have allowed Johnson’s constituents to demand a parliamentary by-election to oust him. 

The severe sanction had been proposed as punishment for Johnson’s repeated contempts and for “seeking to undermine the parliamentary process” on multiple counts.

These included lying to the Commons and the committee, breaching the committee’s confidence by publicly disclosing its draft conclusions last Friday, impugning the panel’s integrity and complicity in the attempted intimidation of MPs.

The formal minutes of the committee show that SNP member Allan Dorans and Labour member Yvonne Fovargue pushed for Johnson to be expelled from the Commons permanently, rather than temporarily suspended.

3. A parliamentary pass should be withheld

In the light of Johnson quitting and a suspension from the Commons not being possible, the committee has recommended that he be blocked from receiving the pass to access parliament that is ordinarily awarded to former MPs.

It is a sanction that was previously meted out to former Commons Speaker John Bercow in 2022 after he was found to be “a serial liar” and a “serial bully” of parliamentary staff in a report by an independent expert panel.

The Commons is poised to vote to approve the privileges committee’s report about Johnson and its recommended sanction on Monday.

The free vote — in which Tory MPs will not be whipped to support the parliamentary motion about the report — will be a big test for Johnson, revealing how much parliamentary support he still commands at this low ebb in his political career.

4. Uncharted territory for a former PM

The privileges committee made clear that Johnson’s “serious contempt” in deliberately misleading the House was “all the more serious” because he was prime minister at the time it occurred.

“There is no precedent for a prime minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House,” said the report.

It acknowledged that this case would now form its own precedent for “the standards of accountability and honesty that the House expects of ministers”.

The MPs also found Johnson had breached confidentiality requirements in his resignation statement last Friday by criticising the committee’s draft findings.

Johnson’s conduct “in making this statement is in itself a very serious contempt”, said the report.

5. Johnson hits back at committee

In a furious 1,680-word statement, Johnson derided the privileges committee’s conclusions variously as “rubbish”, “a lie”, “deranged”, “patently absurd” and “a load of complete tripe”.

The former prime minister accused the committee of pursuing a political agenda.

He singled out Harriet Harman, committee chair and veteran Labour MP, for having expressed “prejudicial views” about his conduct in partygate before the inquiry commenced.

He also criticised Sir Bernard Jenkin, committee member and longstanding Tory MP, for allegedly harbouring “personal antipathy” towards him.

On the committee’s central finding that he had lied to parliament with his assurances at the Commons despatch box that Covid regulations had been followed at all times in Downing Street, Johnson repeated his insistence that he believed the rules had been observed.

He said he still found it “puzzling” that he had been found to have broken the law over his “so-called birthday party” in Downing Street during lockdown, which he characterised as “lunch at my desk with people I worked with every day”.

Johnson became the first prime minister found to have committed a criminal offence while in office after he attended a birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020 that was found to have breached coronavirus rules. In April 2022, Johnson paid a fine for attending the gathering.

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