Boris Johnson tells his supporters to ignore the ‘farce’ as he plots next move

GMB debate: Should Boris Johnson be stripped of all perks?

Boris Johnson has taken a swipe at next week’s vote on Partygate, urging his allies to ignore the “farce” and to “move on”.

The ex-Prime Minister has stood down his ­supporters and told them not to oppose the “deranged” Commons sanction that he faces after being hounded from Parliament.

MPs had been set for a fiery debate over the Privileges Committee’s conclusion that Mr Johnson had repeatedly lied to the House over Covid rule-breaking in Downing Street.

His backers were preparing to vote against the committee’s report with its recommendation to suspend him for 90 days. But Mr Johnson, who has resigned his Uxbridge seat, is understood to consider the situation to be a farce and has told them to stand down – meaning the report is almost certain to pass without a formal vote on Monday.

It means that PM Rishi Sunak would be spared an awkward ballot that might further inflame the bitter Tory civil war over the treatment of his predecessor.

Mr Sunak has been agonising about his response to the committee’s findings which recommended that Mr Johnson should have faced the mammoth suspension had he not already resigned in advance of its judgment. It also proposed that he is banned from holding a Commons pass – an honour extended to former MPs.

Tory MP Sir James Duddridge, a friend of Mr Johnson, said yesterday: “I don’t think there is going to be a vote. I think people just want to move on.” If the report is not opposed then it could just be nodded through the Commons.

That would save Mr Sunak from having to choose between further riling Mr Johnson by backing it, voting against and risking public anger – or avoiding action and facing claims of being weak.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Cabinet minister and staunch ally of Mr Johnson, told radio station LBC he believes Mr Sunak “will abstain on the basis that it is a Parliamentary matter”.

Liz Truss, who was PM for 49 days between Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak, told GB News that withholding a Parliamentary pass would be a “very harsh decision”.

She is not expected to vote on the report, with a source close to the MP pointing out that she is due to be speaking at an event in Dublin on Monday morning.

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Sir Jake Berry, a former Tory Party chairman and another close ally of Mr Johnson, conceded he was “almost certain that Parliament will vote in favour” of the report.

But the MP told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he will “certainly be one of those in the No lobby opposing this report, because I think both the conclusions and, to some extent, the way the committee was made up in terms of this report are wrong”.

Downing Street yesterday said Mr Sunak still “hasn’t fully had time to consider the report”.

A spokesman added: “The Prime Minister takes these processes very seriously, which is why he intends to take the time to study the report closely.” It is understood Mr Sunak will be hosting the Swedish PM in No 10 on Monday, which could give him an excuse not to take part.

Days after he quit as an MP, Mr Johnson was yesterday announced as a columnist with the Daily Mail. The role, said to pay £500,000 a year, will give Mr Johnson a ­powerful platform from which to take shots at the PM with whom he has been clashing publicly.

But Mr Johnson may find himself under scrutiny once again, as the Advisory Committee On Business Appointments said he had not applied to it for clearance first.

Ex-ministers must apply to the anti-corruption watchdog before taking up an outside role within two years of leaving government.

Its chairman, Tory peer Lord Pickles, will ask Mr Johnson for clarification about the job. An Acoba spokeswoman said: “We haven’t had an application and we will be writing to Mr Johnson.”

A source close to the ex-PM said that he had written to the committee, but would not say when.

Mr Johnson’s exit leaves Mr Sunak’s administration facing a tricky by-election on July 20, with Labour hopeful of gaining the vacated West London seat.

A second by-election will take place that day in Selby and Ainsty, triggered by Tory Nigel Adams who was denied a peerage in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.

Ex-Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries had said she too was going to resign but is staying on to investigate how she was denied a seat in the Lords as part of the same list.

She claimed Tory MPs who back the Privileges Committee’s report are not “true Conservatives” and would be “held to account by [party] members and the public”.

Ms Dorries added: “Deselections may follow. It’s serious.” The committee found Mr Johnson deliberately misled the House with his Partygate denials and was complicit in a campaign of abuse and intimidation against the MPs investigating him.

Committee members called him the first ex-PM found to have lied to the Commons. They said that merited a 90-day suspension which would have paved the way for a by-election had he not first resigned.

Mr Johnson was furious at what he called a “deranged conclusion”, claiming the 14-month investigation had delivered “what is intended to be the final knife-thrust in a protracted political assassination”.

The committee – four Tory MPs, two Labour and one SNP – found many aspects of Mr Johnson’s defence “not credible”, leading them to conclude he “intended to mislead”.

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