Mordaunt refuses to back calls for Boris Johnson to be removed from privy

Mordaunt refuses to back calls for Boris Johnson to be removed from privy

Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, has declined to back calls for Boris Johnson to be removed from the privy council.

In a speech on next week's business in the Commons, she said she understands why some people felt he should have that honour removed.

Mordaunt was speaking in response to a question from the Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse, who said Johnson should lose his status as a private counsellor following the Commons vote approving a report saying he lied to MPs. Hobhouse said: 'I think we're going to go for a big bang'.

We must send a clear signal that there is no place in British politics or in public life for someone who has no regard for standards. We risk opening the door to people seeking to emulate Boris Johnson in the years to come, he said.

Mordaunt, who was one of the few government ministers who voted to approve the privileges committee report, said she understand why Hobhouse felt strongly about that. But she added: ''I think it's a good thing,'' she said.

If people have been booted off the privy council, the threshold for that is much higher than the situation we were discussing on Monday, for example someone committing financial fraud. So I would say to her, I understand where she s coming from and her motivation, the integrity in all of these systems is very important, as I spoke about on Monday, but I don t think this is an appropriate course of action in this case.

If someone was to be removed from the privy council, that would have to be on the basis of advice sent to the king, Mordaunt said. The queen said that she thought it was best to keep the king out of controversies like that.

When people have left the privy council, usually it has been at their own request, having been found guilty of a serious criminal offence.

Nevertheless, being a private counsellor is a privilege that lasts for life. Most of the top officials on the privy council are senior politicians. Although they are all advisors to the king, in practice only ministers attend private council meetings, where minor bits of legislation orders in council are agreed.