Boris Johnson, in the midst of another storm: rejects Brexit for Northern Ireland and could be suspended for “partygate”

Boris Johnson leaves his home this Wednesday in London (Reuters) (PETER NICHOLLS /)

Boris Johnson He’s back where he likes to be: in the spotlight. But he is not very happy with the reason. On the one hand, the former British prime minister faces on Wednesday a interrogation by a commission of legislators on whether he misled Parliament about parties breaking pandemic rules. On the other hand, he plans to reject the government’s plan in the parliamentary vote on the post-Brexit deal of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with the EU to review Northern Ireland’s trade rules.

The examination of the commission of inquiry could decide his political future. In a statement, an optimistic Johnson said that “the evidence shows conclusively that I did not knowingly or recklessly mislead Parliament.”

“The commission has not produced a single piece of evidence to show that I did it,” he said.

The hearing, which is expected to last several hours, is a dangerous moment for a politician whose career has been a roller coaster of scandals and comebacks.. If the House of Commons Committee on Privileges concludes that Johnson deliberately lied, you could be suspended or even lose your seat in Parliament.

That would likely kill hopes of yet another comeback for the 58-year-old politician, who led the Conservative Party to a landslide victory in 2019 but was forced out by his own party in July 2022 after being embroiled in money scandals. , ethics and judgment.

In an interim report this month, the committee – made up of Conservative and opposition lawmakers – said that the evidence strongly suggested that it would have been “obvious” to Johnson that meetings at his Downing Street offices in 2020 and 2021 broke COVID-19 lockdown rules.

Boris Johnson (Reuters)
Boris Johnson (Reuters) (PHIL NOBLE /)

Johnson acknowledged Tuesday that his repeated assurances to Parliament that the rules were followed at all times “did not turn out to be correct.” But he assured that he “did not intentionally or recklessly mislead” lawmakers.

In a dossier of written evidence, Johnson said it never occurred to him that the gatherings – which included cake, wine, cheese and an “invisible santa” holiday gift exchange – would violate restrictions on socializing. that his own government had imposed on the country.

He said he “honestly believed” that the five events he attended, including a staff member’s send-off and his own surprise birthday party, were “legal business meetings.”

If the commission holds Johnson in contempt, it could recommend punishments ranging from an oral apology to suspension from Parliament, although any punishment would have to be approved by the entire House of Commons. A suspension of 10 days or more would allow his constituents in the London seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip to request a special election to replace Johnson as MP.

I vote against the government plan

Johnson announced that he will vote this Wednesday against the Windsor Framework Agreement, signed by the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) to replace the controversial Brexit protocol for Northern Ireland.

The House of Commons will vote this afternoon on the so-called “Stormont brake” of the pact, the first “legal instrument” of the new agreement that will be submitted to the approval of the deputies.

This mechanism allows the Belfast Autonomous Assembly (Stormont) to give its opinion on the rules of the single market of the European bloc, to which the region continues to belong, but it could also block their application in the territory.

The proposed arrangements would mean Northern Ireland would remain under the control of the EU legal order, “and increasingly divergent from the rest of the UK,” Johnson said in a statement released today. “That is not acceptable. I will vote against the proposed fixes today,” Johnson added.

Last Monday, the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the second largest political force in Northern Ireland, also reported that it will vote against the Windsor agreement in the Commons. The leader of the DUP, Jeffrey Donaldson, confirmed that the formation rejects this text on the grounds that it does not solve the “fundamental problems”.

The new agreement exempts British products destined for Northern Ireland from checks, although it maintains them for those going to the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the single community market.

In the case of the Protocol for Northern Ireland, the controls of all products were made in the ports of the province, which created a border in the Irish Sea, which separates the island of Ireland from that of Great Britain, something unacceptable. for the DUP, which it considers to have an impact on its relationship with the rest of the UK, of which the province is a part.

(With information from AP and EFE)

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