What will happen to Boris Johnson? When Privileges Committee will release its verdict after Partygate hearing

what will happen to boris johnson? when privileges committee will release its verdict after partygate hearing

Former prime minister Boris Johnson leaves his home in London, the day after his appearance before the Commons Privileges Committee over his denials of No 10 parties during the pandemic (Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Boris Johnson insisted to the Privileges Committee that he did not knowingly mislead Parliament in an intense three-and-half-hour grilling by MPs.

The former Prime Minister repeatedly got testy during the evidence session, hitting back at the panel for their “nonsense” questions and insisting he was sure there was no evidence against him.

The inquiry is seeking to decide whether he misled the Commons over claims about his knowledge of Partygate gatherings in No 10 and Whitehall, and are examining evidence for at least four occasions when he may have deliberately misled MPs with his assurances to the Commons that rules were followed.

When will the Privileges Committee release its verdict on Boris Johnson?

i understands that it is unlikely to conclude its inquiry before Easter and its final report may not even be published until after the May local elections.

Following the conclusion of the session, chair Labour MP Harriet Harman said they would not rule out calling further witnesses to give oral evidence.

Dozens of witnesses already gave written evidence to the inquiry, but Mr Johnson is the first person they have publicly questioned in relation to the allegations against him.

The four Conservatives, two Labour and one SNP MP on the panel will now review Mr Johnson’s oral and written evidence to decide whether he recklessly or wilfully misled Parliament.

They may also reach out to Mr Johnson’s legal team with follow-up questions to clarify any points raised during his oral evidence.

The process could be delayed further as Mr Johnson has requested that the evidence against him be published in full, which requires the committee to seek agreement from witnesses they have spoken to.

It is unlikely that the final report will be published before the Commons rises for the Easter recess on Thursday, 30 March, and there are political concerns that it should not be released before the 4 May local elections in case it affects voting.

Parliament returns from Easter Recess on 17 April, and will also rise between 3 May and 9 May to allow MPs to celebrate the Coronation, which takes place a few days after the May local elections.

What sanctions could the committee recommend?

Once it has considered the evidence, the committee will issue a report that sets out its findings and recommends what sanctions should apply.

It has the power to impose a number of possible sanctions, including requiring an oral or written apology, suspension from the House for a limited time, or withholding salary without suspension.

The committee can also recommend the member be expelled from the Commons, but no member has been formally expelled since 1947.

If Mr Johnson is found to have recklessly or wilfully misled Parliament, it is most likely that he will face a temporary suspension from the House, with the exact length set at the discretion of the committee.

Any recommended sanction must be voted on by the whole House of Commons, and it is the convention that this is a free vote, meaning MPs are not required to vote in line with their party.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak indicated he will not whip any vote regarding sanctions against Mr Johnson, claiming such a move “wouldn’t be right” because it is “not a matter for the Government”.

Could Boris Johnson lose his seat?

If Mr Johnson is suspended for more than 10 sitting days, a recall petition will automatically be triggered in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

Within 10 working days of the Speaker notifying officials in the constituency, signing locations for the petition are set up within the area. These remain open for six weeks, and people can also vote via post or proxy.

If 10 per cent of eligible voters sign the petition, a by-election will then be held in his constituency, in which Mr Johnson can stand.

Tory peer Lord Hayward told Sky News on Wednesday that a by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip could cause “serious problems” for both Mr Johnson and the Conservatives.

“My guess is that if there were a by-election, certainly on current polls, we would lose the constituency and therefore it’s something that is there but we can’t prejudge what the Committee will decide,” he said.

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