Boris Johnson, former Prime Minister of Great Britain. © Kin Cheung/AP/dpa
The "Partygate" affair about illegal lockdown celebrations is catching up with Boris Johnson. The British ex-head of government resigns from parliament with immediate effect. But the saga is far from over
London - British ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lied to the House of Commons, according to a parliamentary committee. He is therefore resigning as a member of parliament with immediate effect, as Johnson announced on Friday evening. At the same time, he stressed that he had no understanding for the committee's allegations in the scandal over illegal lockdown celebrations in Downing Street. The committee on the "Partygate" affair, in which members of Johnson's Conservative Party are also represented, have recommended that the ex-prime minister be suspended for ten days, British media reported unanimously. The case is also likely to weigh on the current head of government, Rishi Sunak.
He was very sad to have to leave parliament – at least for the time being – Johnson's message continued. But he had been "pushed out of parliament in an anti-democratic way" by a committee chaired by a Labour Party politician "with outrageous bias". It was an honour to serve as a member of parliament and mayor of London, the statement continued. Amid poor poll numbers for the Conservative Tories, there is now a by-election in Johnson's constituency in north-west London.
Clear criticism of Sunak
Johnson criticized his successor Sunak clearly. When he left Downing Street in the summer of 2022, the Tories were only slightly behind the strongest opposition party, Labour, in polls. "That gap has now gotten much bigger," Johnson stressed. Polls currently point to a crushing defeat for the Conservatives in the parliamentary elections planned for 2024. Johnson still has many supporters, especially at the party base, in contrast to Sunak, whom many members see as the "regicide" of the populist. The move exposes the internal disputes within the Conservative Party, commented the TV channel Sky News.
Previously, the parliamentary committee had handed over the result of the investigation to Johnson. The members of the Privileges Committee had given the 58-year-old two weeks to respond, the BBC reported on Friday. The "warning letter" lists points of criticism and corresponding evidence, as well as the punishment that the deputies want to recommend. Johnson's resignation is now pre-empting a vote in the House of Commons.
Lying to Parliament?
The committee is investigating whether Johnson lied to Parliament in the scandal over illegal lockdown parties in Downing Street - and has now apparently answered this question in the affirmative. During the Corona pandemic, government employees had repeatedly met in Downing Street and authorities for celebrations with alcohol and music, contrary to regulations. Johnson and Sunak each had to pay a fine for their participation in an event. The ex-head of government stressed that the committee had not presented a "snippet" of evidence of its misconduct.
As it became known shortly before Johnson's resignation, the Brexit champion rewards several confidants as well as employees from the "Partygate" affair with seats in the House of Lords and royal honors. This emerges from Johnson's "Prime Minister's Resignation Honours List" published on Friday evening. His former office manager Martin Reynolds, who invited people to an illegal lockdown party in Downing Street with the request to bring their own alcohol, will also receive a royal title.
Like all outgoing prime ministers, Johnson, who resigned in September 2022 under pressure from his party, is allowed to appoint new members to the House of Lords or nominate them for honours. The opposition criticized Johnson for abusing the tradition for nepotism. Former employees of Johnson were also outraged. Dpa