(London) Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, “hand on heart”, that he had not lied to parliament, during a crucial hearing on his political future before a parliamentary committee investigating the partygate, these parties in Downing Street in the middle of a pandemic.
“I’m here to tell you, hand on heart, that I didn’t lie to parliament,” the 58-year-old former Tory leader said at the start of the TV hearing, during which he held on tight. more than three hours, faced with the barrage of questions to which he was subjected.
Much is at stake for the thunderous leader now an ordinary MP: if the committee of seven MPs, including four Tories, concludes that he intentionally lied to parliament about the Downing Street holidays during the lockdown, Boris Johnson risks losing his seat deputy, compromising the rest of his political career.
The commission has released photos of the Downing Street rallies, testimonies, extracts from statements from the time of Boris Johnson, putting him face to face with his contradictions. Faced with the evidence put forward, he tried to answer point by point, despite some silences and hesitations.
“At all times, I have been completely transparent in parliament,” he said. “I apologize for inadvertently misleading parliament, but to say that I did so deliberately is totally untrue.”
Boris Johnson willingly dumped on his former advisers.
The drunken parties in Downing Street during COVID-19, revealed in the press for months, had angered the British, for their part strictly confined, who had denounced an intolerable “double standard”.
“Our democracy depends on knowing that what ministers say to MPs in parliament is the truth. And without that trust, our entire parliamentary democracy is undermined,” said committee chair Harriet Harman.
“I accept that perfect social distancing was not observed [in Downing Street], but that does not mean that what we were doing was inconsistent with the rules,” Mr Johnson tried, not saying. expressed no regrets.
Regarding a photo taken at a rally for the departure of a member of his team, he defended himself: “I understand that people looking at this photo will think that it was an event social. […] It was not a social event. […] It was not a party”.
Before the hearing, the committee had, in a 110-page document, traced the official statements of Boris Johnson and what was happening then in Downing Street.
In May 2020, Mr Johnson called on “the whole country to obey the rules”, but a few days later attended a garden party in Downing Street. On June 10, he “urges everyone to continue to exercise restraint and follow the rules” and on the 19th attends a birthday party thrown for him by his wife Carrie.
And in November 2020, at a small party, still in Downing Street, he quips that “it’s probably the least respectful gathering of social distancing in the whole of the UK”.
Boris Johnson throughout the hearing pleaded good faith.
His defense, provided in particular by David Pannick, one of the most famous lawyers in the country, cost taxpayers more than 220,000 pounds sterling (249,540 euros), according to British media.
MPs will vote on any penalties he could face, including a suspension which, if longer than 10 days, could trigger a by-election in his constituency, where his majority is slim.
Boris Johnson’s statements have sparked the anger of the families of victims of the pandemic, which has killed more than 220,000 people in the United Kingdom, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.
“If he had any respect, he would step down from his seat as an MP and calmly reflect on the pain and suffering he has inflicted,” Bereaved Families for Justice commented.