Boris Johnson has announced he is standing down as an MP with immediate effect after receiving the report into whether he lied to MPs over partygate.
In an excoriating statement, the former prime minister said a letter from the privileges committee made clear “that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of parliament”.
As a result, Mr Johnson said: “I have written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say that I am stepping down forthwith and triggering an immediate by-election.
“I am very sorry to leave my wonderful constituency. It has been a huge honour to serve them, both as Mayor and MP.”
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Boris Johnson has announced he is standing down as an MP with immediate effect.
The cross-party privileges committee, led by Labour MP Harriet Harman, has been assessing whether Mr Johnson misled parliament with his statements claiming all COVID rules and guidance were followed by Number 10 during lockdown gatherings.
Mr Johnson was facing the prospect of a by-election if MPs recommended a suspension from the Commons of 10 days or more as a punishment for lying.
In response to his resignation, a spokesperson for the committee said they had “followed the procedures and the mandate of the House at all times and will continue to do so”.
They added: “Mr Johnson has departed from the processes of the House and has impugned the integrity of the House by his statement. The Committee will meet on Monday to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly. “
In his 1000-word statement, the ex-prime minister claimed the committee “have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons”.
“They know perfectly well that when I spoke in the Commons I was saying what I believed sincerely to be true and what I had been briefed to say, like any other minister,” Mr Johnson said.
He claimed their purpose “from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts” and that there is a “witch hunt underway, to take revenge for Brexit and ultimately to reverse the 2016 referendum result”.
“I am now being forced out of parliament by a tiny handful of people, with no evidence to back up their assertions, and without the approval even of Conservative party members let alone the wider electorate.”
Mr Johnson also used his statement to deliver a stinging attack on Rishi Sunak’s government for raising taxes, failing to make the most of Brexit and not being Conservative enough.
“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.”
He hinted that he may try to make a return to politics, saying he was “very sad to be leaving parliament – at least for now”.
Mr Johnson’s exit from political life comes less than four years after he won a historic 80-seat majority and nine months after he was forced to resign as prime minister following the collapse of support in the government over partygate and the Chris Pincher affair.
It brings an end to a bombastic political career spanning more than two decades, with Mr Johnson having previously represented Henley in the Commons between 2001 and 2008 and serving two terms as mayor of London before returning to parliament in 2015.
It reads like a declaration of war but in reality today matters because Boris Johnson is simply throwing in the towel in his political career.
Ever since he was slung out as prime minister, Boris Johnson has been a ghost at the Tory feast. He sucked the oxygen out of the room, with the media and a slice of Tory party still hanging off his every word as if it mattered.
A more sober analysis suggests it does not, and today’s decision is less about taking a public stand, and more a recognition he is never “coming back” and doesn’t have the support in Parliament even to make causing trouble fun.
In 12 month’s time todays decision will be seen in another light – as an inevitability, rather than simply the consequences of the privileges committee and its demand he face a by-election.
The massive earning, the fact he would never likely have numbers to run for leader given the stain on his reputation – these are not reasons for staying. If he remained, he would likely undermine the current and every future Tory leader through his magnestism charm troublesome cunning and presence.
That’s why, once more, he has voted to leave: to preserve the myth, and not put it to the test with reality.
Public ‘sick of never-ending Tory soap opera’
Conservative MP Sir Michael Fabricant, who received a knighthood in Mr Johnson’s long-awaited resignation honours list on Friday, said the former prime minister had been the subject of “disgraceful treatment”.
He tweeted: “Disgraceful treatment of a political leader who has made world history by achieving Brexit and leading the Conservatives to a landslide general election victory.”
Richard Mills, chairman of Uxbridge & South Ruislip Conservative Association, said it had been an “honour and privilege” to work with Mr Johnson since he was elected in 2015 and called his commitment to the constituency over the last eight years “outstanding”.
But many MPs welcomed his departure.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “As Boris Johnson exits in disgrace, the British public are sick to the back teeth of this never ending Tory soap opera played out at their expense.
“After thirteen years of Conservative chaos, enough is enough. It’s time for a fresh start for Britain with a Labour Government.”
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‘Good if Boris Johnson disappeared’
Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, simply said: “Good riddance.”
SNP deputy leader Mhairi Black said: “Boris Johnson has jumped before he was pushed, and no one in Scotland will be sorry to see the back of him but he has also underlined the weakness of Rishi Sunak, who has no authority over the bitterly divided Tory party.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Everyone knew he was not fit to hold public office before he was even an MP. Yet Tories made him their leader & look what happened. Evading scrutiny to the last & choosing to quit just hours after gifting gongs & peerages in atrocious act of patronage & sleaze.”
The announcement, coming only hours after his resignation honours list had been published, means the Conservatives are likely to face a tough battle to hold onto the London seat at a by-election.
It was the second by-election triggered on Friday following former culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ decision to quit the Commons immediately, rather than wait until the next election.
Written by: Newsroom