Motion calling for investigation of PM over misleading parliament published

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Labour has tabled a motion that would refer Boris Johnson to a cross-party committee over allegations that he misled parliament in his earlier responses to reports of rule-breaking gatherings held in Downing Street during the pandemic.

As the party published the full text of the motion, which has also been signed by the Westminster leaders of the Lib Dem, SNP, Green, Plaid Cymru, SDLP and Alliance parties, Keir Starmer called on Conservative MPs to “do the right thing”.

“We are urging Conservative MPs to do the right thing. To respect the sacrifice that their constituents made during the pandemic. To say that the public were right to follow the rules. And to vote in the national interest not under pressure from the party whips,” the Labour leader said this afternoon.

Lindsay Hoyle told MPs on Tuesday that he would allow such a motion. The motion is not one that simply states that Johnson lied and was in contempt of parliament, but calls for an inquiry – making it more palatable to Tory backbenchers.

“The British public know that the rules were broken in Downing Street. Voting to say otherwise won’t persuade the public that everything was fine but will further damage the reputation of any Conservative MP who is happy to say it was one rule for the public and another for this government,” Starmer said today.

“Tomorrow’s vote is an important step to restoring decency, honesty and integrity into our politics.”

Johnson appeared before MPs on Tuesday afternoon for the first time since he and Rishi Sunak received fixed-penalty notices from the Metropolitan Police Service for attending an illegal social gathering at the height of the pandemic.

Johnson apologised for his behaviour but also claimed that “it did not occur to me then or subsequently that a gathering in the cabinet room just before a vital meeting on the Covid strategy could amount to a breach of the rules”.

Responding to the statement, Starmer described the Prime Minister as a “man without shame” and appealed to the Conservative backbenchers present in parliament to “put their conscience first” and remove Johnson from office.

Johnson will not be present at the debate on Thursday. He will instead be on a diplomatic trip to India. The government is expected to treat the vote as a no-confidence motion and whip Conservative MPs to reject the investigation.

Below is the full text of the motion for debate at 11.30am on Thursday.

Keir Starmer
Ian Blackford
Ed Davey
Liz Saville-Roberts
Colum Eastwood
Caroline Lucas
Stephen Farry

That, this House

(1) notes that, given the issue of fixed penalty notices by the police in relation to events in 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, assertions the Rt hon Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip has made on the floor of the House about the legality of activities in 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office under Covid regulations, including but not limited to the following answers given at Prime Minister’s Questions: 1 December 2021, that all guidance was followed in No. 10., Official Report vol. 704, col. 909; 8 December 2021 that I have been repeatedly assured since these allegations emerged that there was no party and that no Covid rules were broken, Official Report vol. 705, col. 372; 8 December 2021 that I am sickened myself and furious about that, but I repeat what I have said to him: I have been repeatedly assured that the rules were not broken, Official Report vol. 705, col. 372 and 8 December 2021 the guidance was followed and the rules were followed at all times, Official Report vol. 705, col. 379, appear to amount to misleading the House; and

(2) orders that this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges to consider whether the hon Member’s conduct amounted to a contempt of the House, but that the Committee shall not begin substantive consideration of the matter until the inquiries currently being conducted by the Metropolitan Police have been concluded.

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