Michael Gove declares his refusal to vote in favor of a report that concluded Boris Johnson intentionally deceived Parliament regarding Partygate.
The housing secretary, in an interview with the BBC, expressed that there are areas where the former Prime Minister “fails to meet” expectations.
However, he voiced his disagreement with the report’s suggestion that Mr. Johnson should have faced a 90-day suspension had he continued as a Member of Parliament.
Mr. Gove announced his intention to abstain from the scheduled vote on the report. There has been no indication from Downing Street regarding Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s voting plans or potential participation in the vote.
On Friday, his spokesperson informed reporters that he is currently taking the necessary time to thoroughly review the report. Conservative MPs will have a free vote, allowing them to vote according to their own judgment without instructions from party managers, also known as whips.
The comprehensive 106-page report from the seven-member Commons privileges committee, which includes a majority of Tory members, concludes that Mr. Johnson intentionally provided false information to Members of Parliament regarding the lockdown parties held at Downing Street.
The report determined that Mr. Johnson possessed “personal knowledge” of the rule-breaking incidents and failed to seek assurances regarding compliance, suggesting that he had deliberately ignored the situation.
The committee expressed that, considering Mr. Johnson’s heated response to the advance copy of the report’s findings, including his labeling of the committee as a “kangaroo court,” they would have recommended a 90-day suspension from the House of Commons as part of their recommendation.
The suspension does not apply in this case as the former prime minister resigned as a Member of Parliament before the report was made public.
The committee expressed that Mr. Johnson’s characterization of the committee as a “kangaroo court” in his resignation statement had cast doubt on the integrity of Parliament.
During an interview on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Mr. Gove stated that a suspension of such duration, which has been uncommon in recent times, is “not justified by the evidence presented by the committee.”
The housing secretary, who initially supported Mr. Johnson for Tory leadership in 2016 but later withdrew his support, acknowledged the complexities surrounding the report. He expressed his belief that reducing the entire matter to a single blame solely on Boris Johnson would be unfair.
The vote on Monday to support the report is anticipated to be favored by opposition parties. The report also proposes that Mr. Johnson should lose the parliamentary pass typically granted to former MPs. Nonetheless, it remains uncertain whether a division, where MPs indicate their support through voting lobbies, will occur, as Mr. Johnson has requested his supporters not to vote against the report.
In the absence of any vocal opposition in the chamber, if no one shouts “no” to oppose the motion endorsing the report, it will be passed without a division, thereby omitting the recording of individual MPs’ votes.
Last week, several of Mr. Johnson’s allies expressed criticism of the report’s conclusions.
Nadine Dorries, former culture secretary in Mr. Johnson’s cabinet, criticized the committee for exceeding its authority and cautioned that any Tory MP supporting the report would face repercussions from party members.
Esther McVey, former housing minister in his government, deemed the calls to deprive the former prime minister of a parliamentary pass as “completely absurd and entirely unnecessary.”
Source : bbc.com