This isn’t a resignation statement; it’s a temper tantrum.
And its central claim is untrue.
Johnson says he was “forced out anti-democratically” by a “kangaroo court”.
So let’s remind ourselves of the process from which he has chosen to run away…
Johnson was accused of a serious parliamentary offence: misleading the House.
That triggered a 3-step process.
Step one: an investigation by the Privileges Committee, which has a majority of Tory MPs.
Its chair recused himself, & the taxpayer funded Johnson’s legal advice.
The committee has no power to remove an MP from the House.
It can only recommend a penalty to Parliament: in this case, that Johnson be suspended for more than 10 days.
That brings us to step two: a vote in the House of Commons, which has a Tory working majority of 68* seats [or did on Thursday].
If MPs had backed Johnson’s suspension, he’d still not have been “driven out”.
That requires a third step: for his constituents to demand a by-election.
His constituency – and no one else- would then have decided his fate. It would have done so *democratically* at the ballot box
In short, Johnson has not been “forced out anti-democratically”.
He has chosen to run away, rather than face a democratic vote in Parliament or Uxbridge.
It’s no surprise that this son of the Bullingdon has trashed the political process as he goes. But his smears matter.
Misleading Parliament is a serious offence.
If leaders can lie to the public with impunity, & our democratic institutions become unable to hold them to account, faith in politics is eroded.
So it’s essential that parliaments have robust procedures that command public trust.
The bar for unseating an MP is (rightly) extremely high.
It requires three different courts to find them guilty: the Privileges Committee; the House of Commons; & their constituents.
To call this a “kangaroo court” is to trash a process that needs – & deserves – public trust
As Dawn Butler and Ian Blackford could testify, an MP who even suggests that a minister has lied, without going through a formal parliamentary process, is liable themselves to be suspended from the House.
The idea this is some easy tool for dumping opponents is a fantasy.
Johnson ends his political career – for now – as he spent so much of it: by smearing our institutions and trashing our politics.
On the bright side, we at least have an epitaph for his Shakespeare book:
“Nothing in his political life became him like the leaving of it”.
Editor’s comment: the Conservatives were elected with an 80 seat majority in 2019, but this has been whittled away, so that they now have a a working majority of 68:
‘The Conservative Party won 365 seats. As of April 2023, this stands at 352 following:
- Conservative by-election defeats in Chesham and Amersham, North Shropshire, Wakefield, and Tiverton and Honiton
- a Conservative gain in Hartlepool
- Christian Wakeford’s defection to Labour
- the suspension of the whip from Rob Roberts, David Warburton, Chris Pincher and Julian Knight owing to allegations of sexual misconduct
- the suspension of the whip from Matt Hancock due to his participation in ‘I’m a Celebrity…’
- the suspension of the whip from Andrew Bridgen for anti-vaccine social media posts
- the suspension of the whip from Scott Benton after he was filmed offering to lobby ministers.
In practice, Roberts, Warburton, Pincher, Knight, Hancock, Bridgen and Benton are still likely to vote with the government on most issues.’
With thanks to the Institute for Government for the breakdown above.