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Last-ditch calls have been made to axe the probe into whether Boris Johnson misled MPs over Partygate amid fears democracy is at risk. Mr Johnson will be interrogated on Wednesday in a televised session of the Privileges Committee.
If its seven members decide he misled Parliament over lockdown-era parties in Downing Street and MPs vote to suspend him from the Commons, he could face a by-election.
Allies of the former Prime Minister claim he is the victim of a “politically coordinated stitch-up by people who hate Boris Johnson”.
His supporters say there is a campaign to drive him out of Parliament.
There is also concern the inquiry could set a precedent that means any MP who accidentally gives incorrect information to the Commons could be found guilty of contempt.
A former Cabinet minister warned this would be “very, very worrying to every MP”.
He said: “That is going to have a chilling effect on free debate in the House of Commons.”
Lia Nici, the Great Grimsby MP who served as Mr Johnson’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in No 10, warned that democracy is at stake.
She said: “What a great shame that a UK Prime Minister who won the biggest majority for a generation, and who has helped to
realign British politics, has been seen as so dangerous by ‘the blob’ that they have coordinated to try to get him out of politics. That is exactly what is happening – a politically coordinated stitch-up by people who hate Boris Johnson.
“The only people who should be able to remove an MP from Parliament are voters.
“The basis of this whole investigation has clearly been outed as a witch-hunt led by the Labour Party. If this committee succeeds in ousting Boris Johnson from Parliament, it will make this country look like a banana republic.”
Former Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “The Privileges Committee’s chairman Harriet Harman condemned Boris before she was appointed. Her role makes a kangaroo court look respectable.” Ex-Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman said: “This Privileges Committee is giving kangaroo courts a bad name.
“If Boris Johnson is convicted on such sloppy criteria, no minister and no civil servant will ever be able to answer questions directly and openly again from fear of being destroyed for unintentionally misleading Parliament.”
Ex-Children’s Minister Brendan Clarke-Smith called for the investigation to be “scrapped”.
A spokesman for the Privileges Committee, which will likely take weeks to decide if Mr Johnson is guilty of contempt, said it is “duty bound to proceed with the inquiry…unless and until it is instructed otherwise”.
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