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Boris Johnson misled Congress over coronavirus lockdown party, report says

Boris Johnson has misled British lawmakers over a lockdown-breaking party in Downing Street, the prime minister’s residence and residence, amid the coronavirus pandemic, a powerful committee said. It concluded on Thursday, releasing the findings of the investigation that led to Johnson’s angry resignation from Congress. last week.

The lengthy document, prepared by the House Privileges Committee, delivered a harsh verdict on Mr Johnson’s conduct, honesty and integrity, calling his actions intentional and committing a “grave insult” to the House. concluded.

“While some of Mr Johnson’s denials and explanations are highly dishonest and, in essence, a deliberate attempt to mislead the Committee and the House of Representatives, Mr Johnson’s frequent closed-mindedness has led to caution. It is true,” the report said.

Johnson was sent a draft report last week that characterized the committee investigating him as a “kangaroo court” intent on a politically motivated witch hunt against him, and he promptly resigned from the House. In fact, most of the party’s members are from the Conservative Party, where Mr Johnson was leader until last year, and two of them are prominent supporters of Mr Johnson’s flagship policy, Brexit.

The Privileges Committee, which oversees some internal parliamentary affairs, had the power to recommend Johnson’s suspension from parliament, which could force him to participate in elections to keep his seat. Faced with this highly uncertain outlook, Mr Johnson resigned rather than jeopardize his track record as an electoral winner.

But Mr Johnson seemed to have only hardened the judgment by blaming the committee. Members will be offered more security after comments questioning impartiality by the former prime minister and his supporters.

Based on Mr Johnson’s response, the committee recommended that the former prime minister be stripped of his parliamentary permits and denied the right to visit parliament under normal circumstances. Had Mr Johnson remained in Congress, the commission would have recommended a 90-day ban, but this harsh punishment has been rendered meaningless by Mr Johnson’s resignation.

Documents released Thursday detailed the veracity of Johnson’s account of how he and his senior aides behaved during the pandemic. Amid widespread rumors of illegal parties and social gatherings, Mr Johnson said he had received assurances in Parliament that all lockdown rules were being followed in Downing Street.

Ultimately, however, Mr Johnson became the first sitting prime minister to be fined by the police for breaking the law. More facts came to light, uncovering the “Partygate” scandal. one of several that contributed to his resignation under pressure as prime minister last year.

What mattered to the committee was not the violation of the rules, but the manner in which Mr Johnson denied it. Lawmakers see not telling the truth in parliament as a serious problem. Because without accurate information from ministers, governments cannot be effectively held accountable. This is an important part of an MP’s job.

When Mr Johnson appeared before a committee in March, he assured lawmakers he had not violated lockdown rules and admitted to making misleading statements in Congress. However, he denied having made the false statement on purpose. “I’m here to say wholeheartedly that I’m not lying to the House,” he said at the time. “These statements were made in good faith based on what I honestly knew and believed at the time.”

But Mr Johnson admitted he doesn’t remember being given concrete reassurance from senior civil servants that lockdown rules and directives were being followed at Downing Street at all times.

Instead, he cited advice from two political aides and asked Mr Johnson if he had relied on “flimsy” reassurances from chairman Harriet Harman.

He also denied accusations that his remarks were reckless. In doing so, he could possibly close one potential route for the commission to recommend a lighter sentence for him, thereby allowing him to remain in Parliament without risking an election. was there.

Since being ousted from Downing Street last year, Mr Johnson has kept it almost a secret that he wants to return to his former job, and when he announces his resignation from Congress on Friday, he promises to step down as a member of the House of Representatives “for the time being”. added. Without seats, political revival is impossible – Anyway it looks unlikely — it would be impossible.

But his recent setbacks have exposed the limits of his support among Conservative MPs, with relatively few MPs rallying in his defense.

Sunak’s resignation from Johnson’s cabinet last year prompted Johnson’s exit from Downing Street, but this week tensions between the two have been pushed to the House of Lords, the unelected second house of parliament. A public rift arose over the seemingly intractable issue of the nomination of the .

A retiring prime minister has the right to propose a candidate for a seat in the House of Lords (House of Lords), but a candidate must resign if he holds a seat in the House of Commons. When Mr Johnson’s candidates were scrutinized after months of delay, three of them believed they could stay in the House until the next general election and did not commit to doing so, effectively delaying their titles. rice field.

The issue was also discussed during recent meetings between Mr. Sunak and Mr. Johnson, but they ended up with different understandings of what the deal was. As a result, three MPs, including Johnson’s loyal ally and former cabinet minister, Nadine Dries, were dropped from the final approved list.

Asked about the episode on Monday, Sunak said he wanted Johnson to bend the nomination rules or, in his words, “do something I never intended to do.” I suggested. Mr Johnson responded a few hours later with a statement saying, “Mr. Rishi Sunak is talking nonsense.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/15/world/europe/boris-johnson-report-covid-lockdown-parties-uk.html Boris Johnson misled Congress over coronavirus lockdown party, report says

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