Harman’s Committee Shifts Goalposts to Stitch Up Boris By-Election

Who’d have thought it: appointing a Boris-hating Labour MP to chair the investigation into the PM over whether he misled the House – someone who’d already decided the outcome of the inquiry when Tweeting Boris had done so – looks like it may result in a politically-motivated stitch-up designed to humiliate the beleaguered PM further, and force him out of Parliament. Yesterday evening it emerged Harman’s Privileges Committee has quietly changed the terms of their investigation.

Publishing advice from the Clerk of the Journals on the definition of a contempt, the Committee now says “that while “much of the commentary has focussed on whether Mr Johnson “deliberately” or “knowingly” misled the Committee”, “this wording is not in the motion”.” A major blow to the PM’s defence that it was his understanding no rules were broken, that he ducked out of the leaving do’s he attended early before they became parties, and that he did not therefore knowingly mislead the house. 

“It will be for the Committee to decide, on the basis of its assessment of the evidence, whether, in the circumstances in which they were made, Mr Johnson’s statements “amounted to misleading the House”. It is possible that in making that decision the Committee may expressly or implicitly come to a view as to whether the Ministerial Code was breached, but that is not the question before it.”

While the Committee will now disregard the PM’s intent, the Clerk’s report does say that can feed into deciding a sanction. This is all, in the understated words of The Telegraph, “a departure from precedent”…

It seems the Speaker’s also got in on the act of changing rules. The Privileges Committee’s announcement yesterday said Hoyle has ruled that “any suspension of the requisite length (10 sitting days or 14 calendar days) ) following on from a report from that Committee will attract the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act”. Previously only recommendations of suspension from the Standards Committee would apply the recall act. Now the PM faces a by-election being forced by Harman. Tory MPs are now having to fight back on his behalf, launching a petition to scrap the investigation altogether in light of his resignation…

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Boris Johnson Harriet Harman Lindsay Hoyle
mdi-timer July 22 2022 @ 09:06 mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer
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