Ps will vote on Thursday whether to refer claims that Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons over ‘Partygate” for a formal investigation by Parliament’s Privileges Committee.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said on Tuesday he had decided to grant time for the debate and vote on the Prime Minister’s previous statements to the Commons on lockdown parties in Downing Street and Whitehall after receiving letters from a number of MPs including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
“Having considered the issue, having taken advice from the clerks of the House I have decided that this is a matter that I should allow the precedence accorded to the issue of privilege,” Sir Lindsay said.
The exact nature of the motion which MPs will vote on later this week will not be clear until it is published on Thursday morning, the Speaker added. But sources said MPs were likely to be asked to vote on whether Mr Johnson may have misled the House when he repeatedly said that all rules had been followed following allegations of gatherings in Downing Street.
The Prime Minister was fined last week for breaking lockdown laws when he attended a ‘surprise’ birthday party in Downing Street in June 2020. With Mr Johnson reported to have attended six of the 12 gatherings being probed by the Metropolitan Police, the Prime Minister could face more fines in the future adding to the pressure on his premiership. He was due to make another apology to MPs over the affair later on Tuesday.
Although Tory MPs are likely to be whipped to vote the motion down on Thursday – blocking a formal investigation into Mr Johnson by the Privileges Committee chaired by Labour MP Chris Bryant – opposition parties hope the move will flush out Conservative MPs opposed to Mr Johnson’s leadership.
Some Conservatives MPs who had previously called for Mr Johnson to resign over ‘Partygate’ have backtracked saying it would be wrong to remove a Prime Minister while a war is raging in Ukraine.
Sir Lindsay added: “I want to be clear about my role. Firstly it is not for me to police the ministerial code. I have no jurisdiction over the ministerial code.
“Secondly it is not for me to determine whether or not the Prime Minister has committed contempt. My role is to decide whether there is an arguable case to be examined.”