Source: Washington Post
An investigation by British lawmakers concluded that Boris Johnson, while serving as prime minister, “deliberately misled” the House of Commons in answering questions about a series of alcohol-fueled parties at 10 Downing Street during the strict pandemic lockdowns ordered by his own government.
The report released Thursday by Parliament’s Privileges Committee, which has been investigating Johnson for a year, was scathing. It concluded that Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament when he repeatedly assured the House of Commons that all covid rules had been followed at all times at his offices and residences.
Johnson countered by describing himself as the victim of a witch hunt and lambasting the committee — a majority of whose members hail from his own party — as a “kangaroo court.” Many commentators in Britain compared his language to that of former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Johnson has his defenders — who say this is much ado about nothing and support his eventual comeback — but many members of his own party now think his time in electoral politics is over.
According to opinion polls, most Britons have already concluded that Johnson lied about the parties. A prominent advocacy group, the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, said that Johnson’s behavior was shameful and that he owed the country an apology, not excuses.
After seeing a draft of the committee report last week, Johnson resigned from the House of Commons “with immediate effect.”
Johnson is the first British leader in modern history to be found to have intentionally misled his colleagues. Telling lies in the House of Commons is considered a serious, potentially career-ending transgression that can lead to suspension or expulsion from Westminster.
Johnson’s resignation preempted such a punishment while also triggering a special election in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Before he resigned his seat and began attacking the committee, the lawmakers were prepared to recommend a 10-day suspension for Johnson over his falsehoods, which could have led to his recall.
After Johnson showed his contempt for the process Friday, the committee upped its recommendation to a 90-day suspension, a remarkable slap-down that could hamper Johnson’s assertion — citing Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Terminator movies — that “I’ll be back.”