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UK

Former British prime minister Boris Johnson resigns as an MP with immediate effect

Johnson accused a House of Commons investigation into whether he misled Parliament over partygate of attempting to “drive me out”.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Jun 2023

FORMER BRITISH PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has resigned as an MP after accusing a House of Commons investigation into whether he misled Parliament over partygate of attempting to “drive me out”.

In a statement to the media, he said he was quitting his seat and triggering an immediate by-election because he was “bewildered and appalled” at the Privileges Committee’s investigation into him.

He said he had received a letter from the committee which is investigating whether he lied to MPs over partygate “making it clear, much to my amazement, that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament”.

“They have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons,” he said.

The announcement, coming only hours after his resignation honours list was published, means the Conservatives are likely to face a tough battle to hold onto the London seat at a by-election.

Johnson said he was leaving Parliament “at least for now”, suggesting he does not believe his political career is over.

It had long been suspected he could abandon Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where he had a majority of 7,210 in 2019, in favour of a safer seat.

It was the second by-election triggered today following former culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ decision to quit the Commons immediately, rather than wait until the next election.

The Privileges Committee has been investigating whether Johnson misled MPs when he assured them that Covid rules were followed in No 10 following allegations of lockdown-busting parties.

Johnson said the investigation’s purpose from the beginning “has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts”, adding: “This is the very definition of a kangaroo court.”

“In retrospect it was naive and trusting of me to think that these proceedings could be remotely useful or fair. But I was determined to believe in the system, and in justice, and to vindicate what I knew to be the truth,” he continued.

I am not alone in thinking that there is a witch hunt underway, to take revenge for Brexit and ultimately to reverse the 2016 referendum result.

“So I have today written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say that I am stepping down forthwith and triggering an immediate by-election,” he said.

“I am very sorry to leave my wonderful constituency. It has been a huge honour to serve them, both as mayor and MP.”

He added: “It is very sad to be leaving parliament, at least for now, but above all, I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out, anti-democratically, by a committee chaired and managed, by Harriet Harman, with such egregious bias.”

Responding to Johnson’s resignation, a spokesperson for the Privileges Committee said: “The Committee has followed the procedures and the mandate of the House at all times and will continue to do so.

“Mr Johnson has departed from the processes of the House and has impugned the integrity of the House by his statement. The Committee will meet on Monday to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly.”

Meanwhile, Labour MP Wes Streeting defended Privileges Committee chairwoman Harriet Harman after Johnson’s accusations of “bias”.

“Harriet Harman has more integrity in one little finger than all her detractors combined,” Streeting tweeted.

“The Conservative Party is an ungovernable rabble and their time is up.”

In a rallying call to his followers, Johnson also used his resignation statement to deliver a stinging attack on Rishi Sunak’s government.

“When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened,” he said.

“Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.

“We need to show how we are making the most of Brexit and we need in the next months to be setting out a pro-growth and pro-investment agenda. We need to cut business and personal taxes – and not just as pre-election gimmicks – rather than endlessly putting them up. We must not be afraid to be a properly Conservative government.

“Why have we so passively abandoned the prospect of a Free Trade Deal with the US? Why have we junked measures to help people into housing or to scrap EU directives or to promote animal welfare?

“We need to deliver on the 2019 manifesto, which was endorsed by 14 million people. We should remember that more than 17 million voted for Brexit.”

Priti Patel, who served under Johnson as British home secretary and was nominated in the former prime minister’s long-awaited resignation honours list, tweeted a message of support for Mr Johnson on Friday evening, describing him as “a political titan”.

“Boris Johnson has served our country and his constituency with distinction.

“He led world in supporting Ukraine, got Brexit done, and was our most electorally successful prime minister since Margaret Thatcher.

“Boris is a political titan whose legacy will stand the test of time.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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