Conservative members of the British Parliament skipped voting on a bipartisan investigation into whether British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intentionally misled the legislature over "Partygate" on Thursday, allowing the investigation to proceed.
Johnson gave Conservative members of Parliament the option to forgo voting on the measure Thursday. The option was a surprising twist after Johnson said his administration would attempt to delay the vote earlier in the week. After five hours of debate, no members objected to the measure, and it passed without opposition, according to the BBC.
"Boris Johnson has lost the trust of the public over parties held in Downing Street during lockdown," Labour Leader Keir Starmer said. "Now it's clear he has lost the confidence of his MPs."
PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON PARTYGATE INVESTIGATION OF WHETHER PRIME MINISTER LIED TO LAWMAKERS
Johnson has stated multiple times that he did not intentionally break any rules that his administration put in place and was not aware at the time of the parties that he was breaking any rules. Nevertheless, last week, Johnson, his wife, Carrie, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were each fined 50 pounds, or $66, by the Metropolitan Police Service for an illegal gathering that took place on Johnson's birthday in 2020.
“It did not occur to me, then or subsequently, that a gathering in the Cabinet room just before a vital meeting on COVID strategy could amount to a breach of the rules,” Johnson said Tuesday, according to the New York Times. “That was my mistake, and I apologize for it unreservedly.”
An MPS investigation and a separate internal investigation conducted by senior civil servant Sue Gray have already determined protocols were broken by government leadership, but both investigations looked into whether the gatherings existed, who attended them, and what rules were broken.
The investigation, conducted by the Privileges Committee in the House of Commons, will begin after the other two investigations are completed and will determine whether Johnson knowingly and intentionally misled Parliament when he claimed no laws were broken and all guidelines were followed during gatherings on Downing Street and Whitehall. Once the investigation is complete, the committee will release a report with its verdict, which could include consequences ranging from suspension or removal from Parliament. The rest of Parliament will then vote on whether to implement the suggestions.
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The Privileges Committee is made up of seven members of Parliament, including four Conservatives, two members of the Labour Party, and one from the Liberal Democrats. Committee Chairman Chris Bryant of the Labour Party recused himself from the investigation because he has already commented on the scandal.
If it is determined that Johnson knowingly misled the House of Commons, he will be expected to resign from office, current government guidelines state.