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Boris Johnson faces judgement of British MPs following critical report

Boris Johnson as Prime Minister at a COVID-19 news conference. A report found he had misled Parliament over parties during lockdown.
Boris Johnson as Prime Minister at a COVID-19 news conference. A report found he had misled Parliament over parties during lockdown. Copyright AP Photo/AFP Pool
Copyright AP Photo/AFP Pool
By Scott Reid
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Politicians likely to vote later on report which said former Prime Minister should have been suspended from Parliament for 90 days had he not already resigned as an MP

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Boris Johnson faces judgement from MPs in the UK today as they decide whether to back a report which said he deliberately misled parliament over parties held in Downing Street during lockdown. 

The former Prime Minister resigned after as an MP seeing a copy of the report before it was published. It states that, had he remained, he should have been suspended from the House of Commons for 90 days. 

There is a possibility that MPs will simply nod the report through. This means that, when the speaker says "that this house approves the fifth report from the committee of privileges", if no MP present objects then it passes without further discussion.

However, if any MP objects then it will go to a vote. That possibility has left many in a difficult position. 

Current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who came to power stating "trust is earned, and I will earn yours", was not in Parliament as the debate on the report began. The BBC reported that Downing Street said Sunak was meeting the Swedish prime minister and has a "series of meetings [and] an evening commitment".

He has declared it what's known as a "free vote" in Parliament - essentially, he will allow Conservative MPs to make their own mind up, rather than forcing them to vote one way or another.

He would only say that it is a matter for the House of Commons, "not the government". "That's an important distinction and that's why I wouldn't want to influence anyone in advance of that vote," he added.

"This committee was established under the former prime minister. It commanded the confidence of the house at the time and I’m sure that they have done their work thoroughly and I respect them for that," he added on ITV's Good Morning Britain.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer had earlier called on Rishi Sunak to show "leadership" and attend the House of Commons.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said that, while he welcomed many parts of the report, he disagreed with the 90-day punishment and said he would abstain from the vote. 

However, leader of the House Penny Mordaunt said that, in her capacity as an MP, she would be voting in favour of the report's findings. 

Complicating matters for Conservative MPs, Boris Johnson retains a level of support within the Conservative Party and some of the country's newspapers, including the Daily Mail, which last week hired him as a columnist.

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