Boris Johnson Quits Parliament Amid ‘Partygate’ Sanctions
Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson shocked the nation on Friday by announcing his resignation as a lawmaker. The decision came after he was informed that he would be facing sanctions for misleading Parliament regarding the infamous “party gate” scandal. Johnson’s departure was accompanied by a scathing tirade against his political opponents and his successor, Rishi Sunak, potentially igniting tensions within the Conservative Party.
Johnson’s resignation followed the conclusion of an investigation by lawmakers into his misleading statements about government parties held during the pandemic. Dubbed “partygate,” these gatherings violated lockdown rules and caused public outrage. In a lengthy resignation statement, Johnson accused his opponents of a deliberate campaign to oust him and hinted at the possibility of a future return to politics.
Expressing his disappointment, Johnson referred to the investigating committee as a “kangaroo court,” accusing them of premeditated bias against him. “Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts,” he stated.
As Johnson steps down, a special election will be triggered to fill his position as a lawmaker representing a suburban London constituency. Throughout his career, Johnson has weathered numerous scandals and made remarkable comebacks. He led the Conservatives to a resounding victory in 2019 but was forced to resign less than three years later due to pressure from his own party.
The investigation by the House of Commons standards committee focused on Johnson’s misleading statements to Parliament about the rule-breaking events that occurred in government buildings between 2020 and 2021. The police issued 126 fines in connection with these gatherings, including one to Johnson himself. The partygate scandal ultimately contributed to the downfall of his premiership.
Although Johnson admitted to misleading Parliament, he maintained that he did not do so intentionally. He argued that he honestly believed the events he attended, such as a send-off for a staff member and a surprise birthday party, were lawful work gatherings intended to boost morale among exhausted staff coping with the challenges of a deadly pandemic. The committee’s report, which was due to be published soon, could have resulted in Johnson’s suspension from the House of Commons if deliberate falsehoods were proven.
In an unexpected turn of events, the chairman of the BBC also resigned due to his links to loans granted to Johnson, the man who appointed him. This move allowed Johnson to avoid potential suspension, preserving his eligibility to run for Parliament in the future. His resignation statement criticized Sunak, who previously served as Treasury chief in Johnson’s government before leaving along with several other colleagues in July 2022, actions that ultimately led to Johnson’s own resignation.
Johnson’s resignation coincided with King Charles III awarding knighthoods and other honors to loyal aides and allies of the former prime minister. This political tradition, which honors former prime ministers, sparked accusations of cronyism from Johnson’s opponents.
In his resignation letter, Johnson expressed his astonishment at the determination of the Privileges Committee to drive him out of Parliament. He described the committee’s forthcoming report on Partygate as flawed and biased, yet he lacked the formal ability to challenge its findings. Consequently, Johnson announced his immediate resignation, triggering a by-election in his constituency.
This departure marks the end of an era for Boris Johnson, one of the most polarizing leaders in recent British history. With his resignation, Johnson leaves behind a legacy tarnished by the Partygate scandal and a Conservative Party that must now reclaim its momentum and restore faith in its ability to lead the nation.