Privileges Committee finds Boris Johnson misled Parliament

Boris Johnson has been accused of committing a “clear breach” of the rules for failing to follow protocol ahead of announcing his new columnist role at the Daily Mail.

The former prime minister was confirmed as the newspaper’s new “erudite” columnist earlier today, just days after quitting as an MP.

However, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) said Mr Johnson only informed them half an hour before the public announcement.

A spokeswoman for the Acoba said: “The Ministerial Code states that Ministers must ensure that no new appointments are announced, or taken up, before the Committee has been able to provide its advice.

“An application received 30 mins before an appointment is announced is a clear breach.

“We have written to Mr Johnson for an explanation and will publish correspondence in due course, in line with our policy of transparency.”

The latest breach in rules comes after a cross-party committee of MPs found the former prime minister repeatedly lied to Parliament before being complicit in a campaign of abuse and intimidation.


Boris breaks the rules again with ‘I’m fat’ column

Boris Johnson has committed another “clear breach” of the rules with a column in which he disclosed he has taken the controversial drug alleged to be behind some celebrities’ dramatic weight loss.

Kate Devlin has the details here:

Adam Withnall17 June 2023 06:22


UK was underprepared for pandemic because of focus on Brexit, report finds

Efforts to improve the UK’s ability to cope with a severe pandemic were paused for the government to focus on planning for the impacts of a no-deal Brexit, a Cabinet Office official has told the Covid inquiry.

Katharine Hammond, former director of the civil contingencies secretariat in the Cabinet Office, accepted that national lockdowns, the lengthy closure of schools and “total economic collapse” were not considered in planning for a pandemic event.

In October 2016, a cross-government exercise carried out to test the UK’s response to a serious influenza pandemic concluded that it was not prepared to “cope with the extreme demands of a severe pandemic”.

Ms Hammond agreed that the assessment “proved to be correct” and told the inquiry that the programme of work generated from the exercise was not completed before Covid-19 hit the UK because “elements” of it were paused to focus on “Operation Yellowhammer”.

“It was the cross-government planning effort for the impacts of a no-deal exit from the European Union,” she explained.

Ms Hammond cited the same operation as a reason for interfering with the work of the Pandemic Flu Readiness Board instituted in 2017 and with updating the Revision To Emergency Preparedness guidance issued in March 2012, which the witness said was not updated between then and 2020.

Questioned on the risk assessment for a pandemic, Ms Hammond conceded that several features of the coronavirus pandemic were not “anticipated or planned for” – including that there was no consideration of full national lockdowns.

She said there was discussion about schools being closed down but only on a “temporary” basis.

Hugo Keith KC, counsel to the inquiry, asked: “Was there any consideration, foresight or planning for total economic collapse, furlough scheme, for national support financially and for the closing of businesses and, in effect, the economy?”

Ms Hammond replied: “All of those things flow from the planning for a lockdown, so the answer follows no.”

She also admitted that risk assessments did not identify the need for personal protective equipment over such a long period of time and in such large quantities and that mass contact tracing, a lack of “antiviral” for coronavirus and the lack of a vaccine was not anticipated or planned for.

Rivka Gottlieb, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, said: “The news that the Cabinet Office hadn’t done any preparations for lockdowns prior to the pandemic is absolutely horrific for families like mine.

“The risk of a pandemic was common knowledge but it’s clear that the government was caught completely unprepared.”

Adam Withnall17 June 2023 05:00


Boris and Trump might be gone – but unless we change our politics, we’ll get more malign leaders

It is no more than an accident of timing but the parallels are hard to avoid. Over the past week, two big political figures, one on either side of the Atlantic, have been bitterly denouncing the systems that once enabled their power and now want to eject them.

Both are furious, both are challenging the legitimacy of the processes used to evict them, both are speaking of a “witch hunt”. And in both cases, a political consensus has cheerfully danced on what is hoped will be their political graves.

In the UK, or at least in the so-called Westminster village, there was a palpable sense of vindication after the parliamentary privileges committee published its excoriating verdict on Boris Johnson. The committee found that the then prime minister had not just “deliberately misled the House” multiple times, but had impugned the committee and been “complicit” in its attempted intimidation. How could there be any possible way back for him from this?

Eleanor Noyce17 June 2023 04:00


Sunak could be spared challenging vote after Johnson calls off supporters

Rishi Sunak may be spared a vote that could enflame the row in the Tory party after Boris Johnson called his supporters off from opposing the investigation that found he lied to MPs over partygate.

The Prime Minister was agonising over his response to the damning Privileges Committee report which will be debated in the Commons on Monday as he seeks to unite his fractious Conservatives.

The report recommended that Mr Johnson should have faced a 90-day suspension had he not already resigned in advance of its judgment.

Though he cannot now serve that, the cross-party group of MPs also recommended that he should be banned from holding a pass to access Parliament for a series of offences.

Eleanor Noyce17 June 2023 03:00


Voices: If we really want to punish Boris Johnson, let’s kick the greased piglet out of the Tory party

If it is right to, in effect, kick Boris Johnson out of parliament for knowingly lying on at least eight separate occasions, why, one may ask, is it alright for him to be a member of the Conservative Party?

If he were still an MP, then there’d certainly be a case for removing the whip from him; and, now that he’s skipped that particular pen, our greased piglet is still snuffling around the sty.

He is, at the time of writing, a member of the Tory party, throwing his weight around, chucking ordure at Rishi Sunak, making trouble and getting his snout firmly in the trough to find a perpetual leadership campaign.

Eleanor Noyce17 June 2023 02:00


What the whistleblower saw shames No 10

“Presumably, the same goes for the as-yet unexamined gatherings at Chequers. To the extent the Covid public health precautions weren’t observed (and even Mr Johnson acknowledges there were breaches) no one told him any different – so he says. The impression is given that Downing Street was busy and observing the rules as the norm, and that the various misdemeanours were very much the exception.”

Staff so drunk they slept under their desks and not a mask in sight unless the media were near: the pantomime picture painted by a No 10 insider exclusively to The Independent is very much worse than the one portrayed in the privileges committee report:

Editorial: What the whistleblower saw shames No 10

Staff so drunk they slept under their desks and not a mask in sight unless the media were near: the pantomime picture painted by a No 10 insider exclusively to The Independent is very much worse than the one portrayed in the privileges committee report

Eleanor Noyce17 June 2023 01:00


SNP urges Ross to ‘grow a backbone’ over Johnson sanctions

The SNP has urged Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross to “grow a backbone” and whip MPs to vote in favour of sanctions against Boris Johnson.

The former prime minister was found by the Privileges Committee to have knowingly misled Parliament in his denials of partygate, with the panel recommending a 90-day suspension, had he not already stepped down as an MP.

Mr Johnson, the committee said, should also not receive a pass for the Parliamentary estate, as is the usual custom for ex-MPs.

Craig Paton has the full story:

Eleanor Noyce17 June 2023 00:01


Voices: Boris is off his trolley if he thinks he has a hope in hell of a comeback

The Commons privileges committee’s scathing report on Johnson has reasserted parliament’s right to hold ministers to account, and, crucially, ensure they tell the truth. In future, if they mislead parliament inadvertently, they will feel under pressure to correct the record quickly – something Johnson failed to do, the committee found.

It seems to have surprised the ex-PM that some of his own aides have a conscience, says Andrew Grice:

Eleanor Noyce16 June 2023 23:00


Letters to the editor: The British people have had enough and are no longer fooled

“Soon MPs will have the opportunity to vote on the report by the Privileges Committee on whether Boris Johnson misled parliament and whether or not he undermined democracy by his subsequent reaction to the sight of the report.

I am already sick of the feeble excuses, the attempts to deflect and the faux outrage of Johnson’s supporters as well as the efforts, on social media, to ignite another pathetic culture war. The British people have had enough of this and are no longer fooled.”

Eleanor Noyce16 June 2023 22:15


Boris breaks the rules again with ‘I’m fat’ column as he reveals taking weight loss jabs

Boris Johnson has committed another “clear breach” of the rules with a column in which he disclosed he has taken the controversial drug alleged to be behind some celebrities’ dramatic weight loss.

In what will be seen as a thinly veiled attempt to settle old scores, the former prime minister also revealed two senior Tories, including a then cabinet minister, have used the medication.

Just a day after he was found to have repeatedly lied to Parliament, the appointments watchdog said he was in “clear breach” of the ministerial rules.

Eleanor Noyce16 June 2023 21:30

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