Former prime minister Boris Johnson sensationally quit as an MP over Partygate tonight, accusing Remainers and other political opponents of conspiring to ‘drive me out’ of politics.
The former leader stunned Westminster by resigning his seat with immediate effect over the findings of an investigation into Partygate lawbreaking in Downing Street during the pandemic.
He launched a scathing attack on the cross-party Privileges Committee, led by Labour’s Harriet Harman, which investigated whether he misled MPs when he assured them that Covid rules were followed in No 10 following allegations of lockdown-busting parties.
He confirmed it had found against him and recommended he serve a ban from the House of more than 10 days.
Under Commons rules he would have faced a by-election in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency he has represented since 2015 but which is a Labour target seat.
Mr Johnson accused the committee of having ‘still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons’.
In a furious resignation letter the ex-Tory leader accused the probe of attempting to ‘drive me out’ and suggested it was a plot by Remain supporters still angry about the 2016 referendum.
‘Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts. This is the very definition of a kangaroo court,’ he wrote.
‘Most members of the Committee – especially the chair – had already expressed deeply prejudicial remarks about my guilt before they had even seen the evidence. They should have recused themselves.
‘In retrospect it was naïve and trusting of me to think that these proceedings could be remotely useful or fair. But I was determined to believe in the system, and in justice, and to vindicate what I knew to be the truth.’
He added that he was ‘very sad to be leaving parliament – at least for now’.
In a rallying call to his followers, Boris Johnson used his resignation statement to deliver a stinging attack on Rishi Sunak’s Government.
‘When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened,’ he said.
‘Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.
‘We need to show how we are making the most of Brexit and we need in the next months to be setting out a pro-growth and pro-investment agenda. We need to cut business and personal taxes – and not just as pre-election gimmicks – rather than endlessly putting them up. We must not be afraid to be a properly Conservative government.
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