Unheard of for British democracy: Boris Johnson was found guilty by a parliamentary inquiry on Thursday of having lied to Parliament in the “partygate” affair when he was in power, pushing the ex-prime minister to cry “political assassination”.
The former Tory leader, who is about to turn 59, slammed his seat as an MP last week after being notified of the damning findings of a 14-month investigation into parties held in Downing Street during the anti-COVID containments.
He had then strongly attacked his successor Rishi Sunak, and the latter must now manage a heavy enemy who is determined not to remain in the shadows and who once again let his anger burst on Thursday.
In a long, extremely aggressive press release, he reaffirms that he thinks he has done nothing wrong and denounces the “lie” and the “sick” conclusions of the commission.
He accuses the latter of having wanted to carry “the last stab of a political assassination”: “It is a dark day for the deputies and for democracy. This decision means that no MP is immune to a blood feud. »
The committee was to determine whether Boris Johnson lied to Parliament by repeatedly claiming in the House of Commons that all health restrictions had been respected in Downing Street during the COVID crisis. This case has already earned him a fine from the police and has largely contributed to his departure from power last summer.
“Democratic institutions” under attack
“There is no precedent of a prime minister being found guilty of deliberately misleading the House,” the commission concludes. “He misled the House on a matter of the utmost importance to the House and to the public, and he has done so repeatedly. »
The report also denounces Boris Johnson’s very virulent resignation letter, with the accents of Donald Trump, as an “attack on British democratic institutions”.
No longer sitting, Boris Johnson no longer risks much. The commission says it would have recommended a 90-day suspension had he not walked out, which likely would have triggered a by-election.
The document, which must be debated on Monday by the deputies and then put to the vote, nevertheless requests that the access which former prime ministers have to the premises of the Parliament be withdrawn.
Some Tory lawmakers close to Boris Johnson have already called on their peers to vote against the report, while Labor opposition No. 2 Angela Rayner likened the ex-leader to ‘a baby throwing his toys out of the pram because he got caught”.
Boris Johnson “should never again be allowed to run for any term of office,” the COVID-19 Victims Association has said.
Heard for more than three hours in March, Boris Johnson had said “hand on heart” not to have lied.
A year after his resignation from Downing Street, where he spent three years marred by scandals, his departure prevents any return to power for this former journalist and mayor of London, at least until the legislative elections scheduled for next year.
It has reopened the gaping wounds in the Conservative Party, which has been in power for 13 years but trailed Labor in the polls.
Boris Johnson keeps influential allies there and an important aura with the base for having won a historic victory in the 2019 legislative elections and then carried out Brexit, when the exit from the European Union seemed to be at an impasse.
Hostilities are now publicly declared with the government of Rishi Sunak, his former finance minister, already seen as a traitor whose resignation, followed by many others, led to the fall of Mr. Johnson last summer.
Tensions have been reignited in recent days as the list of decorations and appointments given to Boris Johnson, as is tradition for prime ministers after they leave, has been retconned.
If it remains at the center of political and media attention, its real capacity for harm remains uncertain. Only two deputies imitated him and resigned from Parliament in the last week, while some feared a wave of mass departures weakening the government of Rishi Sunak.