Parliament to investigate Boris Johnson for contempt in party scandal | International
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There was no need to vote. When asking the British deputies the vice president of the House of Commons if anyone opposed the amendment, not a fly has been heard. And by assent, the British Parliament has taken the historic decision to investigate a prime minister, Boris Johnson, for possible contempt. To find out if he was telling the truth during each of the appearances in which he tried to explain the matter of the prohibited parties in Downing Street during the confinement.
It was impossible to discuss a matter of such gravity without being able to say the key word: liar. Thats why he speaker (Speaker) of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hole, has allowed the deputies, exceptionally and contrary to parliamentary decorum, to define Boris Johnson with that adjective. Pejorative, yes, but also descriptive of what was being discussed at Westminster. It was about deciding whether the prime minister had lied to Parliament by repeatedly denying that parties were held in Downing Street during confinement, and that the law was never broken in government offices. That is, if Johnson had been in contempt and should be punished for it. The fine imposed by the Metropolitan Police two weeks ago is barely 60 euros. But its symbolic value is immensely superior to the monetary value. Never in the history of the United Kingdom had a prime minister broken the law during his term. Johnson’s half-excuses before Parliament last Tuesday convinced few, because he limited himself to apologizing for his “mistakes”, but continued to ensure that he was never aware that the parties in Downing Street were against the rules that his Government had imposed on the citizens.
“Our amendment has a clear objective: to defend the simple principles of honesty, integrity and the need to tell the truth in politics,” explained the Labor leader, Keir Starmer, at the beginning of the debate on the text presented by his party. It was an amendment to order the House of Commons Privileges Committee (similar to Spain’s MP Statute Committee) to open an investigation into whether Johnson had breached the Ministerial Code and deliberately misled Parliament.
A Strategy That Didn’t Work
In a mixture of defiance of the opposition and an attempt to appear normal, Johnson had started an official visit to India this Thursday and has been absent from Parliament. He was leaving with a certain calm, because late on Wednesday the leadership of the conservative parliamentary group had calmed down the most rebellious deputies. He offered them an amendment to the Labor amendment, by which the Government pledged to support a further investigation of Parliament’s Johnson, but only after Scotland Yard had completed its own and the report on the senior official’s parties was finally published. , Sue Gray.
The strategy, however, did not work. In the first place, because Labor themselves had included in their text the precaution of making the parliamentary investigation subject to the completion of the police work; secondly, because the pressure of many voters made it untenable for the Conservative deputies to put themselves in profile; and thirdly, because the speech that Johnson himself offered to the parliamentary group on Tuesday night had more content of arrogance than humility.
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“I have been tempted to forgive him. But that possibility has disappeared, ”said Steve Baker, the Eurosceptic Conservative MP who was key to Johnson being elected Prime Minister, from his seat. His coup made clear the difficulty facing the prime minister. “For not obeying either the letter or the spirit of the rules, the prime minister should have left a long time ago. He knows the game is up,” Baker said.
The insistence – pressure, rather – of the leadership of the parliamentary group on the conservative deputies has irritated many of them. Above all, because at first they were told that iron parliamentary discipline would be required to vote against the Labor amendment. What in House jargon is known as three-line whip (triple whip; whip is what the deputies in charge of pushing the vote of the rest are called). Disobedience to such a slogan carries punishment. But in an issue of such ethical depth, the only thing that was achieved was that more than half of the conservative caucus was empty. It was the way to discreetly express an abstention. For several hours, it has been the opposition MPs – Labor, Scottish nationalists, Liberal Democrats or Greens – who have intervened, one after another, to express the anger of their voters with Johnson’s behavior and accuse him of having lied to Parliament .
The two worst blows to the prime minister, even though he was thousands of miles away from the debate, have come from within his own ranks. Along with Baker, another conservative deputy, William Wragg, president of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, called on his fellow ranks to do the right thing. Wragg had already called for Johnson’s resignation days before, and the Ukraine crisis, he said, was not an excuse for him: “The invasion of a sovereign nation by an aggressive dictator cannot be the reason for us to accept lowering our own levels of ethical requirement,” he said.
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