UK lawmakers have approved an investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s alleged lies


LONDON (AP) — British lawmakers on Thursday ordered a parliamentary inquiry into Prime Minister Boris Johnson for allegedly lying about breaching coronavirus restrictions by attending unlawful gatherings during the pandemic.

The move, endorsed by cries of ‘yes’ and without a formal vote in the House of Commons, means Parliament’s Privileges Committee will investigate whether Johnson knowingly misled Parliament – historically a resignation offense if she is proven.

The inquiry puts more pressure on a Tory PM whose grip on power has been shaken by claims he flouted the pandemic rules he imposed on the country, then failed to acknowledge it Many times.

The move was initiated by the opposition Labor Party and passed after the government abandoned efforts to get Tory lawmakers to block it. Johnson’s Tories have a substantial majority in parliament, but many lawmakers are uncomfortable with the prime minister’s behavior.

Labor leader Keir Starmer said the move was to uphold “the simple principle that honesty, integrity and truth are important in our politics”.

“It’s a British principle … guiding members of all political parties in this House,” Starmer said. “But it is a principle under attack.”

READ MORE: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologizes for attending garden party during country’s lockdown

Johnson was not present for the decision on a scandal that rocked his country’s leadership and the Conservative Party. He was more than 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) away in India, insisting he wanted to “get to work” leading the country.

Johnson was fined 50 pounds ($66) by police last week for attending his own birthday party in his office in June 2020, when people in Britain were barred to meet friends and family, or even to visit dying relatives. Johnson is the first UK prime minister to break the law while in office.

He apologized, but denied knowingly breaking the rules. Johnson’s shifting defense – first saying there were no unlawful assemblies, then saying it ‘didn’t occur to me’ that the birthday event was a party – aroused the derision and indignation of opponents, who called on him to resign.

“The truth is simple and it is this – he lied to avoid getting caught, and once he got caught he lied again,” Scottish National Party MP Ian Blackford told the House of Commons.

Usually, lawmakers are prohibited from accusing each other of lying, but Blackford was not reprimanded by the president.

A growing number of conservatives are uncomfortable defending a leader who broke the rules he imposed on the country. A few have openly called on Johnson to leave, and the number is growing. Others are waiting to see if public anger translates into Conservative losses in the May 5 local election.

“It’s utterly depressing to be asked to defend the indefensible,” said Conservative lawmaker William Wragg. “Every time a part of us withers away.”

Lawmaker Steve Baker, thus far a top supporter, said Johnson “should be long gone” for breaking “the letter and the spirit” of the rules.

“I will definitely vote for this motion,” he said. “But really, the Prime Minister should just know the concert is over.”

The Privileges Committee inquiry will not begin until the twin police and civil service inquiries into ‘partygate’ are complete.

READ MORE: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson fined for breaking COVID lockdown rules

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating 16 events, including ‘bring your own booze’ office parties and ‘wine Fridays’ at Johnson’s office at 10 Downing St. and other government buildings . Police are investigating a dozen events and have so far imposed at least 50 fines, including those on Johnson, his wife Carrie and Treasury chief Rishi Sunak. Johnson reportedly attended about six of the rallies and could face further police fines.

Johnson and his allies argue it would be unwise for the country to change leaders now amid war in Ukraine and pressure on the cost of living caused by soaring energy and food prices .

As he flew to India for a two-day visit focused on strengthening economic ties, Johnson again denied knowingly misleading parliament and insisted he would lead the Tories to the next national elections, scheduled for 2024.

“I have absolutely nothing, frankly, to hide,” Johnson told Sky News during his visit to the western Indian state of Gujarat. “I want to continue the work for which I was elected.”


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