Partygate Latest: What exactly is the Commons Privileges Committee?

Boris Johnson faces another investigation into the partygate scandal, despite his pleas for everyone to move on.

MPs will vote late Thursday afternoon on a Labour-led plan that would see the House of Commons Privileges Committee open an inquiry into whether the Prime Minister has misled parliament.

What is Johnson guilty of?

Police have imposed a fixed fine on the prime minister for attending his own birthday party in the cabinet room of No. 10 in June 2020.

He accepted the police’s decision and paid the fine and admitted on Wednesday that he had broken the law for the first time.

Johnson is also said to have attended six of the 12 events under investigation by Scotland Yard, so he could face more fines.

What did Johnson say?

Still, the prime minister had repeatedly denied that any rules had been broken.

On December 1, 2021, Johnson told the Commons, “All guidelines were fully followed in issue 10.”

Later that month, he also told parliament that he was “sure that whatever happened, the guidelines were being followed and the rules were being followed at all times”.

What’s the problem?

The ministerial code states that “ministers who knowingly mislead parliament are expected to resign”.

What is Johnson’s defense?

But the key word there is “deliberately” – Johnson has said that “it didn’t occur to me” that his birthday party was against the rules.

Asked directly in the House of Commons on Tuesday whether he had “deliberately” misled the House, Johnson said: “No.”

What is the Privilege Commission?

The Commons Privileges Committee – consisting of seven MPs – investigates the behavior of MPs.

It is chaired by Labor MP Chris Bryant, but has a Conservative majority.

Bryant has offered to withdraw if that would convince more Tory backseats to vote in favor of a commission inquiry.

If asked to investigate, it could call partygate witnesses to testify and demand that documents and photos be handed over.

Upon completion of the investigation, a report would be issued determining whether Johnson “disrespected parliament” for lying.

It can recommend punishments such as the suspension or removal of MPs from the House of Commons.

But such a move would require a vote by the entire House of Commons.

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