Breaking: Privileges Committee showdown today as Boris Johnston defends his integrity

Former UK PM Boris Johnson

Privileges Committee showdown today as Boris Johnston defends his integrity giving four hours of evidence on his innocence on the allegedly hypocritical breaking of Covid rules in 2020.

The Privileges Committee is investigating whether Boris Johnson may have misled parliament in statements that he made in the Commons about alleged breaches of lockdown rules in Downing Street and, if so, whether this may have constituted a contempt of parliament.

According to the specific terms of the motion passed by the Commons authorising the committee’s inquiry, the committee is investigating whether:

  • The Commons was misled
  • If the Commons was misled, whether that constituted a contempt of parliament(in other words, whether the functioning of the Commons was impeded by this)
  • If the Commons was misled, how serious was the potential contempt

In what was expected to be a detailed legalese argument, Johnston began by swearing on the Bible, as is the tradition in legal proceedings,  saying “I apologise for inadvertently misleading the House,” and that it was not his intention to reopen Partygate.

Was the misleading statements made by Johnson a genuine mistake rather than reckless or intentional?

A PM absconding responsibility?

Great PM brought down by small people?

Person at the top usually carries the can—was he not checking the rules?

He said he did not lie to the house; his actions were made in good faith and he believed the rules and guidance were being complied with to the best of his and his colleagues´ ability.

His Dec 1 and 8 statements to Parliament were based on his reasonable belief at the time. Thousands of emails, WhatsApp messages that have been investigated show there was nothing illegal.

The evidence shows Johnston received assurances from advisors and officials that the rules were followed.

“I am confident no evidence would be found.”

“I don´t think you mean to accuse me of lying.” Nor the many officials who would have been colluding in lies.

Johnston was running the UK and managing a pandemic and was not able to follow up “a Daily Mail” beat up. Number 10 Downing Street managed the pandemic.

Johnston gave a record of sterling government achievements in Covid, where the UK led Europe in vaccine and lockdown management, and said he maintains there was much more focus on managing the pandemic than covering up rule-breaking.

Partying during lockdown? Thanking staff. Photo misrepresents the reality.

Chair of the Committee, Harriet Harman, Labour MP, weas keen to emphasise the Privileges Committee is fair to officials, so stated that the “Sue Grey interview notes” would not be submitted until Johnston could reply. Johnston agreed and said there were 16 points he wanted to elucidate before that evidence is made public.

He said his December 1 and 8 statements to Parliament were based on his reasonable belief at the time.

Social distancing to 2 metres was not possible in all circumstances. Johnson works 17–18-hour work days, and was not aware of attendance figures at all events. Because there was the belief all was well he did not anticipate the outcome, genuinely shocked when fines were issued.

Johnson said that Dominic Cummings´ testimony cannot be relied upon and his detractors have one unreliable witness, who has a grudge against him.

Johnson called for the Committee to publish all for Parliament and Public to judge.

The Committee will resume after an interruption by the Commons.

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