Partygate row is 'still about Brexit' says Currie
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The former Conservative minister has claimed MPs calling for Boris Johnson to resign over Partygate want to replace him with someone who would ensure a “weaker” Brexit. The Commons will decide on Thursday whether to ask the Privileges Committee to consider whether the Prime Minister’s conduct amounts to contempt of Parliament. The motion, tabled by leading figures from seven opposition parties, says that the committee’s inquiry should not begin in earnest until the Metropolitan Police have concluded their own investigation into lockdown-busting parties in Downing Street and Whitehall.
Speaking to GB News, Ms Currie said: “An awful lot of this is still about Brexit.
“It is also about people trying to get rid of the Prime Minister who have never forgiven him for Brexit and who are determined to replace him with somebody who will be much weaker on Brexit.
“They have forgotten that he won a general election with that as the main issue only two years ago.”
She added: “Of course, it will be wonderful if we had a saint with a halo and wings sprouting out of his back, who never puts a foot wrong, but what we’ve got with Boris is a real life human being.”
Mr Johnson has already received one fixed-penalty notice for attending his birthday party in the Cabinet Room in June 2020 but is thought to have been at half of the 12 gatherings under investigation by Scotland Yard.
Tory MPs are expected to be ordered to oppose the Labour-led cross-party motion on Thursday, although the Prime Minister will not vote on it as he will be on an official visit to India.
Opposition leaders urged Conservatives not to block the investigation into Mr Johnson’s actions.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We are urging Conservative MPs to do the right thing: To respect the sacrifice that their constituents made during the pandemic, to say that the public were right to follow the rules, and to vote in the national interest, not under pressure from the party whips.”
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Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “Conservative MPs should think carefully before voting to block an investigation into Boris Johnson’s lies. The public won’t stomach another Conservative stitch-up that drags our democracy through the mud just to protect one of their own.”
The motion suggests that comments “including but not limited to” four separate remarks in the Commons “appear to amount to misleading the House”.
If the Government does oppose the motion, with a working majority of 75, it is unlikely that the Prime Minister’s conduct will be referred to the committee without a major Tory revolt.
Tory MP Sir Charles Walker, vice-chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee, said he would abstain on the vote and told the BBC: “If the fines keep racking up there is only so long that the Prime Minister will be able to lean on his party for support.”
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The Privileges Committee has wide-ranging powers to investigate whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament, crucially including the ability to compel the release of reports, documents and photos linked to the partygate scandal.
If it found the Prime Minister’s conduct did amount to contempt by deliberately misleading the House then it could recommend sanctions – although it is unclear what penalties could be applied.
However, the ministerial code is clear that ministers who deliberately mislead the House are expected to quit.
One potential barrier to Tory MPs backing the motion was removed as Labour’s Chris Bryant, a prominent critic of the Prime Minister’s conduct, said he would recuse himself from chairing the Privileges Committee if the matter was referred to it.
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