LETTER FROM LONDON
Although he has not been Prime Minister since the summer of 2022, spaced out his appearances in the House of Commons although he is still an MP (he prefers to give generously paid speeches around the world), Boris Johnson once again saturated British media on Wednesday March 22. Much to the chagrin of current Downing Street tenant Rishi Sunak, who is dutifully working to bring seriousness back to the ranks of the Conservative Party and fears that the “Johnson circus” will once again undermine his slim but not zero chances of staying in power at the next general election in 2024.
Mr. Johnson, the enfant terrible of British politics, faced his fate during a river hearing before the Privileges Committee of Parliament, an ad hoc formation responsible for investigating the so-called “partygate” scandal, the parties in Downing Street during the pandemic. The question is no longer whether these parties respected the social distancing rules of the time – they violated them, an independent report published in 2022 by senior civil servant Sue Gray has already concluded. The police have also distributed more than a hundred fines to Downing Street staff, as well as Boris Johnson (and Rishi Sunak), for having participated.
The Privileges Committee wants to know if the ex-leader knowingly lied to MPs when he was still in office and asserted, on several occasions in late 2021 and early 2022 in the precincts of the House of Commons, that “all the rules” had been followed “at any time” in Downing Street during the lockdowns. Lying in the House of Commons, without correcting your remarks as soon as possible, constitutes a serious breach of the rules of the British Parliament and is liable to sanctions – a suspension, for several days or even several months.
“It was not right”
In February, the privileges commission released an interim report, noting that it must have been ” obvious “ for the Prime Minister that the rules in Downing Street had not been followed. Suffice to say that Mr. Johnson, a politician known for his elastic relationship to the truth, did not appear in a position of strength on Wednesday, despite the presence at his side for the adviser of Lord David Pannick, one of the most brilliant lawyers in the country. . The hearing was long and difficult for the ex-journalist, ex-mayor of London and great supporter of Brexit, who did not manage to convince the members of the commission definitively. Combative, less blundering than usual, he however did not sink.
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