WHEN Boris Johnson threw in the towel late on Friday evening it was clear that the Commons’ Partygate probe was going to be withering.
But not even the ex-PM’s most devoted supporters in Parliament predicted quite how damning the long-awaited 30,000 word findings of the Privileges Committee would be.
Boris Johnson has dismissed the inquiry as a kangeroo court
Boris Johnson has launched a searing attack on the Commons Privileges Committee
A whopping 90-day suspension, partly slapped on him for “disingenuously” defending himself against what to many appears to be a predetermined guilty verdict from Harriet Harman and co.
Some of the same MPs on this committee voted for a suspension just a fraction of that for the ex-SNP MP Margaret Ferrier who literally travelled the length of the country knowing she had Covid.
You don’t have to be a BoJo superfan to question that logic.
Boris supporters say that, amid the pompous and pious language of the report, little truck has been given to anyone or any evidence that went against their central finding that Johnson deliberately lied to the Commons.
Instead, they say, the report reads more like a politburo show trial denouncing a Soviet rebel than a fair-minded attempt to get to the bottom of the affair.
While his many, many critics are practically dancing a merry jig around the TV studios in Westminster today, the anger from Johnson’s allies is ferocious.
As ex-minister Brendan Clarke-Smith hit out: “I am appalled at what I have read and the spiteful, vindictive and overreaching conclusions of the report.
“I won’t be supporting the recommendations and will be speaking against them both publicly and in the House on Monday. I’m backing fairness and justice – not kangaroo courts.”
And even senior Tories furious with Johnson at his attacks on Rishi Sunak in the last ten days were shocked by the report’s findings.
One told me: “I’m very pissed off with Boris and want him to go away but this report is a complete joke. The sanctions are so ludicrously excessive and, Bernard Jenkin aside, I’m staggered that any Tory MP would vote for it.”
And they predicted MPs that do nod this through the Commons next week face a backlash from local party members, adding: “I suspect they will be having some serious issues with their associations and wouldn’t be remotely surprised if they were given the boot.”
Both the Committee and Boris Johnson say today is a bad day for democracy.
While the salt-smelling inquisitors said their findings “go to the very heart of democracy”, Johnson slammed them for behaving in an “anti-democratic way, to bring about what is intended to be the final knife-thrust in a protracted political assassination – that is beneath contempt.”
That today has damaged faith in our political system is pretty much the only thing they all agree on.
The question now is which side will Rishi Sunak come down on?
Boris supporters hoping the PM will step in to water down the findings when it is voted on next week should not get their hopes up.