UK lawmakers back scathing report that slammed Boris Johnson over ‘partygate’

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a meeting with Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson inside 10 Downing Street London, Monday, June 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, POOL)

Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in 2022 to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

LONDON — Britain’s House of Commons on Monday resoundingly endorsed a report that found Boris Johnson lied to lawmakers about lockdown-flouting parties in his office, a humiliating censure that strips the former prime minister of his lifetime access to Parliament.

Lawmakers backed the finding that Johnson was in contempt of Parliament by 354 votes to 7, after a debate in which many argued it was crucial to show voters that politicians are obliged to follow the rules and tell the truth.

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“It is important to show the public that there is not one rule for them and another for us,” said Conservative Party lawmaker Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister.

Opening the five-hour debate, House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt urged lawmakers to “do what they think is right.” Mordaunt, a Conservative like Johnson, said she would vote to endorse the report by the Commons’ Privileges Committee.

“This matters because the integrity of our institutions matter. The respect and trust afforded to them matters,” she said. “This has real-world consequences for the accountability of members of Parliament to each other and the members of the public they represent.”

A handful of Johnson allies spoke up to defend the former leader. Legislator Lia Nici said that “I cannot see where the evidence is where Boris Johnson misled Parliament knowingly, intentionally or recklessly.”

But more Conservatives, and all opposition lawmakers who spoke, said they would back the report. Many Conservative lawmakers were absent from the debate — including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Wary of riling Johnson’s remaining supporters, he stayed away.

Max Blain, Sunak’s spokesman, said the prime minister had “a number of commitments,” including a meeting with Sweden’s leader.

Johnson, who turned 59 on Monday, was not there either. He stepped down as prime minister in September 2022, but remained a lawmaker until June 9.

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