Getting Johnson out: lying ex-PM exposes Sunak’s weakness

‘World King’s’ new clothes: how Boris Johnson’s ignominious exit was portrayed by Chris Riddell in Sunday’s Observer

354-7: last night, Parliament had its say on the Privileges Committee’s damning report into Boris Johnson’s misconduct. ANDREW FISHER, pictured right, on how Croydon and Sutton’s MPs voted, and why the ex-PM is running scared of scrutiny

In the House of Commons last night, it was a tale of two Prime Ministers – one a disgraced ex-Prime Minister, whose lies throughout his career (remember his promises when to extend the tram network to Crystal Palace?) have finally caught up with him; the second the cowardly current Prime Minister, who hid away rather than cast a vote.

The House of Commons is a strange place, where all MPs have to be referred to as “honourable”, or “right honourable”. Such decorum has to be upheld at all times, and it is not permitted for one Member of Parliament to accuse another of lying – even if those accused blatantly have been deliberately telling falsehoods.

Two years ago, the London Labour MP Dawn Butler was thrown out of the Commons chamber for stating that Boris Johnson “has lied to this House and the country over and over again”.


Two years later, and the committee of the House of Commons tasked with upholding standards – the Privileges Committee – has found Johnson guilty of:

  • Deliberately misleading the House
  • Deliberately misleading the Committee
  • Breaching confidence
  • Impugning the Committee and thereby undermining the democratic process of the House
  • Being complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the Committee

When giving evidence to the committee, Johnson said: “This was guidance and I’m not going to pretend it was enforced rigidly.”

He previously told the House of Commons, “The guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times.”

The committee – which has a majority of Conservative MPs – made these conclusions unanimously, and also concluded that the minimum sanction for Johnson should be suspension from the service of the House sufficient to engage the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act.

The report stated: “There is no precedent for a Prime Minister having been found to have deliberately misled the House. He misled the House on an issue of the greatest importance to the House and to the public, and did so repeatedly… He misled the Committee in the presentation of his evidence.”

Or, he “lied over and over again”, as Dawn Butler said.

Etonian strop: liar Boris Johnson

The Recall of MPs Act meant that, if MPs voted to approve the report, Johnson’s constituents would have six weeks to petition for a by-election. And if more than 10per cent of the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip signed the petition, then a by-election would happen.

There is to be a by-election in Uxbridge on July 20, but there was not any petition. Boris Johnson resigned as an MP in a petulant Etonian strop when, on a rare occasion, he didn’t get his own way.

The reason why serial liar Boris Johnson resigned is that he could not convince the Conservative majority of the committee he had not lied, and he could not be sure that he could convince, or cajole, or con, the majority of the Conservative-dominated Commons that he was not a liar.

And he almost certainly had no confidence that he could convince the people who elected him in 2019 to do so again. Far easier for him to stomp off, and reportedly pocket £1million a year for self-reverential columns in a tabloid national newspaper, starting with, I am told, one about how he did not even have the self-discipline to follow a weight-reduction programme.

Liar Johnson ran away from democratic politics, accusing his former colleagues on the committee of being a “kangaroo court”.

Conservative MP Nick Fletcher – one of a handful of loyal Johnson acolytes who turned up to vote against the Committee’s recommendations, made a slightly odd analogy: “If Man City’s star player had to sit in front of seven of his peers for a hearing, how fair would it be if three of them were Man United players?” Fletcher asked, rhetorically.

“Not very,” Fletcher suggested.

‘Beacon of integrity’: Chris Philp, before liar Johnson did a runner

Even Fletcher’s own unnecessarily contrived scenario, the Manchester City player would still have faced a committee where the majority were their own team-mates. As did Johnson. No wonder Rishi Sunak is keen for everyone to have studied mathematics until they are 18.

In the end, just seven Conservative MPs dribbled through the House of Commons voting lobbies in defence of Boris Johnson. It was a Who’s Who of “who?”: Bill Cash, Nick Fletcher, Adam Holloway, Karl McCartney, Joy Morrissey, Desmond Swayne and Heather Wheeler.

In contrast, 118 Conservative MPs voted for the report, and therefore against liar Johnson.

They included both of Sutton’s Tory MPs, Paul Scully and Elliot Colburn, as well as Croydon South’s Chris Philp, whose own relationship with veracity when a junior minister during Johnson’s premiership had been put to the test.

Back in January 2022, Philp had answered emphatically, “Yes, I do”, when wheeled out as a government spokesperson on Sky News and asked whether he believed Boris Johnson was “a beacon of moral integrity”.

More recently Philp has back-pedalled a little when he told ITV’s Peston programme that he would reserve judgement until he had read the Privileges Committee’s report.

Even after the committee had published its report, Philp lavished praise on the former PM, telling the largely unwatched Murdoch-owned channel Talk TV that Johnson had “phenomenal skills as a communicator”. Or “liar”, as the rest of us would describe him.

Perhaps Rishi Sunak, Michael Gove and other high-profile Conservative MPs who abstained haven’t got around to reading the report yet?

Philp obviously did, because he gave his judgement by voting in favour of the report – ignoring the non-leadership of his absentee Prime Minister.

The party party: invites to Bailey’s ‘mingle’ during lockdown

This completed a clean sweep for Croydon as our borough’s two other MPs – Labour’s Sarah Jones and Steve Reed – also voted in favour of the recommendations.

  • Another disgraced Conservative politician could soon stand condemned, and have his collar felt by the Met, as more details have emerged of the lockdown-breaking party hosted by the Tories’ former London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey. The “Jingle and Mingle” party was held before Christmas 2020, when mixing indoors was banned. Just last week, party-going law-breaker Bailey was made a peer of the realm, part of liar Boris Johnson’s resignation honours – an honours list which Rishi Sunak was too weak to block.

Andrew Fisher’s recent columns:

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  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

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2 Responses to Getting Johnson out: lying ex-PM exposes Sunak’s weakness

  1. Peter Kudelka says:

    At least his lies didn’t lead us to war, unlike Labour and WMDs.

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