As it happenedended1688145521

Rishi Sunak – latest: Tory civil war deepens as Goldsmith hits back over claim he refused to apologise

Tory peer hits out at Sunak government’s ‘apathy’ – day after Downing Street faced down calls to fire him

Andy Gregory
Friday 30 June 2023 18:18 BST
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Moment MPs vote in favour of Partygate report finding Johnson misled parliament

The Tory civil war has grown more fractious as Zac Goldsmith hit out at “misleading” No 10 briefing over his scathing resignation, insisting that Rishi Sunak was “wrong” to claim he had refused to apologise over his Partygate comments.

The outgoing environment minister claimed he was “happy to apologise” for remarks labelled “disturbing” by the privileges committee in their report alleging “interference” from 10 Tories during their investigation which found that Boris Johnson repeatedly lied to parliament.

As he sought to get back on the front foot at a No 10 briefing outlining his plans for NHS reforms, Mr Sunak insisted the Tory peer had resigned after taking a “different course” when asked to apologise for his “incompatible” remarks – despite No 10 insisting just hours earlier that he had the PM’s confidence.

But Lord Goldsmith opened up a new front of criticism for Mr Sunak as he countered the PM’s claims of his refusal to apologise on Friday, insisting the Sunak government’s “lethargy” on climate meant his resignation had been a “long time coming”.

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Jess Phillips relieved the ‘system is bigger than demagogue’ Johnson

Labour MP Jess Phillips has expressed relief that “the system is bigger than this demagogue”, as she praised the privileges committee for its report.

“The idea that Boris Johnson didn’t understand the regulations ... I mean, it is a cracking defence on his part I have to say, because it basically means he is too stupid. He is either lying or he is thick,” Ms Phillips told MPs.

The Birmingham Yardley MP added that the committee report reassured her there was “a lock on the system”, also describing it as “a valve to release the pressure”.

She told MPs: “What I have seen for the past five years of people lying and deceiving, specifically Boris Johnson lying and deceiving, I felt like oh gosh, it is okay, the system is bigger than this demagogue, it is bigger than this man who thinks he is bigger than the world.”

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 21:11
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Boris Johnson ‘hits out at committee’ in speech to forum

Boris Johnson is absent from tonight’s proceedings and is instead reportedly giving a speech to the International Democratic Union.

According to a source cited by the Guardian’s Aubrey Allegretti, the ex-PM has called the privileges committee “biased and wilfully ignorant”, and claimed there's “always another innings”.

Mr Johnson’s supporter Brendan Clarke-Smith, who has called the committee’s recommendations “appalling” said he “fully intended to vote against” but would not give “others the satisfaction of taking part in their silly games”, appeared to be in attendace.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 21:25
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MPs to vote on committee report

Several shouts of “no, no, no” could be heard as speaker Lindsay Hoyle ordered the lobbies to be cleared for a vote on the privileges committee report.

We will have the results shortly.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 21:29
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MPs vote to uphold committee’s findings and sanctions

Boris Johnson has been dealt a humiliating blow as MPs voted to back the findings and recommended sanctions of a damning report which found he lied to parliament over Partygate.

While some of the former PM’s staunch supporters appeared to boycott the vote, while others such as the PM were also absent, Mr Johnson was roundly condemned in several hours of debate before MPs returned a verdict of 354 to seven in favour of upholding the committee’s findings.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 21:42
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MPs vote to deny Johnson parliamentary pass

MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the privileges committee’s recommended sanctions.

This means that Boris Johnson will be denied an ex-member’s pass to parliament. The recommendation of a 90-day suspension from the Commons no longer applies given that Mr Johnson stepped down as an MP last week once being made aware of the report’s contents.

There were also calls from some MPs, who argued that removing his pass did not go far enough, to also ensure that the ex-PM’s honour’s list was not approved.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 21:55
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Commentators react: ‘Hard to imagine’ greater humiliation for Johnson

Here is some of the reaction to the vote to censure Boris Johnson tonight.

The FT’s Jim Pickard said it was “hard to imagine” a more humiliating result.

ITV’s Robert Peston suggests that no former PM “has ever suffered quite such an indignity”.

Piers Morgan also highlights the low levels of support for Johnson.

Alicia Fitzgerald, of Politics.co.uk, notes that the vote is “extremely significant” despite the number of abstentions.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 22:01
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The Tory MPs who voted in Johnson’s favour

The division list showed Conservative MPs who opposed the Privileges Committee report were: Sir Bill Cash (Stone), Nick Fletcher (Don Valley), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Joy Morrissey (Beaconsfield) and Heather Wheeler (South Derbyshire).

The division list released immediately after the vote contained six names in the noes rather than seven announced in the chamber.

There have been ongoing issues with names being recorded on the division lists, with other votes seeing the Commons authorities issuing updates later on.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 22:15
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Vote was triggered by Labour

The shouts of “no, no, no” just before Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle ordered a vote earlier came from Labour chief whip Alan Campbell, according to the BBC.

The whip reportedly positioned himself right next to Sir Lindsay to object when the speaker whether MPs supported the report, thus triggering the vote.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 22:18
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How did the evening unfold?

In a further humiliation for Boris Johnson, MPs have voted overwhelmingly to strip him of his former member’s pass to parliament, as they upheld the privileges committee’s findings that he repeatedly lied to parliament.

While a large number of Conservatives abstained, there were some 118 Tory MPs among the 354 who voted to uphold the committee’s “damning” report – versus just seven who voted against it.

With his successor Rishi Sunak accused of “running scared” with his absence during the debate, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt kicked off proceedings at 4:30pm by stating her intention to endorse the report, describing parliamentary rules as “obligations we have to one another, to this place and to those that sent us here”.

Former PM Theresa May was among other senior Tories to do the same, as she accused her successor of being “found wanting” in a scathing speech to MPs, who she called on to back the report to help “restore faith in our parliamentary democracy”.

Of the few to speak in defence of the PM, loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg compared the privileges committee to “communist China”, and said the move to strip Mr Johnson of his parliamentary pass was going “from the vindictive to the ridiculous”.

His attempt to cast doubt over committee chair Harriet Harman’s impartiality drew what one MP could be heard describing as a “mic drop” moment in response, as the Mother of the House replied that the government had told her it had confidence in her leadership, saying: “I was assured that I should continue the work … and so I did just that.”

While Mr Johnson himself was not among those spotted in the viewing gallery – in contrast with Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen, who was spotted on its benches – the ex-PM was reported to hit out at the “biased and wilfully ignorant” committee in a simultaneous speech to the International Democratic Union, and to claim that there’s “always another innings”.

Those celebrating the results of the vote, however, which came after some five hours of debate, appeared to believe otherwise, with Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant telling The Independent: “It feels like justice takes a long time to turn the bend – finally, chickens are coming home to roost.”

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 22:33
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Which Tory MPs abstained?

While 118 Tory MPs voted in favour of the report, there were 225 who did not cast a vote.

Among them were Boris Johnson’s former Cabinet ministers such as Nadine Dorries, Michelle Donelan, Oliver Dowden, Michael Gove and George Eustice.

Others for whom no vote was recorded included Lee Anderson, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Victoria Atkins, Steve Barclay, Jake Berry and Liz Truss.

Andy Gregory19 June 2023 22:42

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