Wednesday, May 4, 2022

What will happen next in the Partygate saga?

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In an unprecedented move, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to be investigated for possibly lying to MPs about parties said to have been held at Number 10 during the Covid lockdown.

Mr Johnson had previously told MPs that the “rules were not broken at Downing Street”.

However, he has since been fined by the Metropolitan Police for attending his own birthday party in June 2020, when the UK government’s pandemic regulations banned indoor gatherings between more than two people.

What exactly will an inquiry into Mr Johnson’s conduct involve? And what could happen to the Prime Minister if it turns out he lied to the Commons?

Passing the motion means MPs on the Privileges Committee will investigate whether Mr Johnson despises Parliament for misleading the Commons with his repeated denials of lockdown-breaking parties.

The inquiry only begins after Scotland Yard has concluded its own inquiry into alleged Covid breaches at the heart of government after May 5.

Scotland Yard, whose inquiries into gatherings breaking the lockdown are ongoing, said the May 5 local elections meant they would make no further announcements on fixed amounts until after Election Day.

However, Number 10 suggested explaining in the run-up to local elections whether fines would be imposed on Mr Johnson or Cabinet Secretary Simon Case.

The Prime Minister’s own MPs refused to defend him in the House of Commons on Thursday, and it is believed this could trigger the release of scathing photos of his allegedly illegal gatherings.

Number 10 acknowledged that hundreds of potentially damning photos and documents could be released as part of the investigation. Neither the Metropolitan Police nor Sue Gray’s investigation should disclose them.

After a private hearing of evidence, the committee is expected to make recommendations to the House of Commons.

It can be recommended that the Prime Minister should be suspended if it is found that he has deliberately misled MPs.

If that were to happen, the pressure on Mr Johnson to quit would be enormous.

However, should the committee decide that misdirection was inadvertent, the whole thing could potentially topple over and Boris Johnson could remain Prime Minister.

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