Partygate: How MPs will decide if Boris Johnson misled Parliament

Boris Johnson 'not worthy as Prime Minister' says Harper

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The embattled Prime Minister addressed the House of Commons on Tuesday with a “full-throated” apology to MPs demanding answers to his conduct during the Covid lockdown of 2020 to 2021. Boris Johnson announced that he was among those to have received a fixed penalty notice from the Metropolitan Police following investigations into lockdown breaking gatherings. His actions have led to criticism from both sides of the political aisle and new demands for his resignation that he has resisted so far, but misleading Parliament may leave him with no choice.

How do MPs decide if the Prime Minister misled Parliament?

Among the many grievances MPs on both sides of the aisle have with the Prime Minister is that he misled the lower house.

In plain terms, this means they believe the Prime Minister lied when he insisted that “all guidance was followed completely” at Downing Street, as he was eventually found to have broken the rules.

MPs aren’t allowed to accuse one another of lying or “misleading Parliament”, as this is considered “unparliamentary language” that infringes on the etiquette demanded of “honourable members”.

But breaking the rules to this extent is a cardinal offence that the Ministerial Code deems a resigning matter.

There is a debate as to whether Mr Johnson broke the rules outlined in the document.

He had to sign off the code himself when he took office in 2019.

The process to determine whether Parliament should investigate this officially starts this week.

Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle has greenlit a request from Sir Keir Starmer that MPs be allowed to vote on whether the Prime Minister should be investigated for leading the house.

Sir Lindsay granted the request on Tuesday, paving the way for a debate and vote on Thursday, April 21.

MPs will decide whether the cross-party privileges committee should investigate Mr Johnson.

The process starts when Sir Keir tables a motion on Wednesday, April 20, which goes to a discussion and subsequent vote the following day.

While he presides over proceedings and rules in the lower House, the speaker cannot decide whether the Prime Minister has misled the chamber.

He confirmed as much in a statement earlier today when he agreed to let the vote proceed.

Sir Lindsay told MPs that it was not for him to “determine whether or not the Prime Minister has committed a contempt”.

He added that his role was to “decide if there is an arguable case to be examined”.

After considering the issue, he said, and taking advice from House of Commons clerks, he decided the request was “a matter that I should allow the precedence accorded to the issue of privilege”.

MPs hoping for an opportunity to investigate the Prime Minister have one obstacle in their way, however; their Conservative colleagues.

The Parliamentary vote to investigate him will require a majority vote, and Mr Johnson’s party currently possesses a majority of seats in the Commons.

While some MPs have called for the Prime Minister’s resignation, most have closed ranks around him, making it tough for opposition members to gain the necessary support.

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