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Partygate: Portsmouth MP backs investigation into whether PM lied to Parliament

Stephen Morgan MP has backed an investigation to be launched into whether the Prime Minister lied to Parliament on breaking covid laws in Downing Street.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer MP tabled a motion in the House of Commons today, with support of other opposition party leaders, to ask the Privileges Committee to investigate whether statements made by the Prime Minster about Downing Street Covid breaches deliberately misled MPs, which would amount to contempt of Parliament.

It comes after numerous statements made by the Prime Minster to the House of Commons about events in Downing Street which breached Covid laws, leading to the Metropolitan Police fining both him and Chancellor for.

The Privileges Committee polices the privileges of the Commons and has powers to hold people in contempt of Parliament. It has existed in some form since the 17th century to monitor the conduct of MPs and to investigate when asked to by the House.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The Prime Minister broke the Covid laws he instructed millions of others to follow, in Downing Street, and then lied about it.

“That’s why I’ve supported this cross-party motion for the Privileges Committee to investigate whether he knowingly lied to Parliament, in addition to the people of Portsmouth and the country.

“In a day of chaos from the Tories, the Prime Minister didn’t even have the confidence in his own Conservative colleagues to back him and at the eleventh hour, dropped the whip.

“The values that uphold our democracy – honesty, respect, integrity – are being slowly eroded every time a defence is made for why he could not come clean to Parliament about breaking the law in the first place. It must end. Britain and our great city deserve better.”

The committee will not begin its investigation until the inquiries currently being conducted by the Metropolitan Police about No10 Covid breaches have been concluded.

FAQ:

What is the Privileges Committee being asked to investigate?

The Prime Minister has made numerous statements to the House about his knowledge of events reported to have taken place in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office during the coronavirus lockdowns. The fact that he and the Chancellor have now been fined makes these statements highly questionable.

The Privileges Committee is being asked the investigate whether these statements were deliberately misleading. If they determine that they were, this would amount to contempt of Parliament.

What powers does the Privileges Committee have?

The Privileges Committee has wide-ranging powers including the ability to request documents from the Government as part of its inquiries – this could include the full Sue Gray report and photographs. It will report back to the House on its findings and can also recommend sanctions, including suspension or expulsion, if appropriate; these would then need to be agreed by the House.

Why would the investigation not start until after the police processes have concluded?

The police should be allowed to proceed with their investigations without any perceived impediment. At the same time, there are already questions about the important issue of whether the House has been misled and Members should take a decision immediately that this matter should be investigated as soon as is appropriate.

How long would the investigation take?

The length of the investigation is most appropriately determined by the Privileges Committee. The motion therefore does not specify when the committee should report by, but given the public interest, it would likely be concluded as quickly as possible.