Boris Johnson says he didn't believe No. 10 events were illegal
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Tory MPs have warned that Rishi Sunak could be facing a revolt after threats that they will lose the whip if they question the privileges committee inquiry into whether Boris Johnson lied to Parliament over Partygate. The row has exploded after the key witness, former senior civil servant Sue Gray, defected to Labour to become Sir Keir Starmer’s chief of staff.
Conservative backbenchers have questioned how an inquiry into Mr Johnson can continue when the key witness is tainted.
But after the explosive intervention today by whips senior figures in the party have accused the Prime Minister and Downing Street of “collusion” in “trying to stitch up Boris”.
One former minister told Express.co.uk: “I have been told that if we comment on the privileges committee inquiry publicly, we will lose the whip.
“This is unprecedented and it is an absolute scandal.
“If they press ahead with this, they could end up removing the whip from a third of Conservative MPs.
“There will be an absolute revolt on their hands.”
Pressure is growing on the four Conservative members of the committee – Sir Bernard Jenkin, Sir Charles Walker, Alberto Coasta and Andy Carter – who are in the majority, to pull the plug on the inquiry because it is dependent on a witness who works for Labour.
Another MP told Express.co.uk: “Of course, we should be able to question this kangaroo court because it is a kangaroo court.
“How can it be possible for the committee to rely on the evidence of somebody [Sue Gray] who is now a tainted witness.”
It is understood the intervention has come after speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle made it clear he would not accept any questioning of the Privileges Committee, chaired by former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman when he accepted an urgent question on Ms Gray yesterday.
But a former minister and Boris loyalist told Express.co.uk: “The whole thing is a stitch-up.
“We now have to consider that Downing Street and the Whips Office at number 12 are colluding to discredit Boris.”
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Already activist groups have threatened to push for the deselection of Tory MPs who were involved in bringing Boris Johnson down.
One MP said: “If they [the party leadership] are going to play this sort of silly games then more MPs are going to get deselected.”
However, by losing the whip it means an MP has to sit as an independent and cannot stand for the party at an election.
One MP said: “The Prime Minister would have had to approve this threat. He has raised the stakes.”
The committee has concluded in its initial findings that Mr Johnson may have misled Parliament four times.
However, supporters of Mr Johnson have noted that the committee has not included whether the actions were “deliberate” but instead used the word “reckless”.
The committee has named Ms Gray as its main witness.
Express.co.uk has contacted Downing Street for a response.
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