What MPs’s handling of Partygate probe

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What MPs’s handling of Partygate probe

Boris Johnson faces a new investigation over Partygate this time, over whether he misled MPs by repeatedlydenying Covid laws were broken in Downing Street.

What is the privileges committee?

The committee of privileges looks into the allegations that an MP has committed contempt of parliament, according to a special body called the committee of privileges.

As opposition parties claim Johnson has done, misleading the Commons comes under this category.

The sitting prime minister has never been referred to the committee for scrutiny, despite the fact that the committee has conducted numerous investigations before.

A cross-party group of seven MPs make up the committee. They are the exact same members as sit on the standards committee, given the two used to be combined until 2010

The privileges committee does not have any extra lay members who are not politicians appointed to sit on it, unlike the standards committee.

There is an in-built government majority, with four Conservative MPs consisting of Alberto Costa, Bernard Jenkin, Andy Carter and Laura Farris. Labour has two spots, held by Yvonne Fovargue and Chris Bryant, while the Scottish National Party has one, Allan Dorans.

One of the two committees that the House of Commons rules dictates must have a Labour Chair, which is currently occupied by Bryant. Bryant was a vocal critic of the government and Johnson over Partygate and recused himself from the impending investigation. Jenkin, as acting vice-chair, is expected to take his place.

How will the investigation work?

The committee members will not begin substantive consideration of the matter until the inquiries currently being conducted by the Metropolitan police have been concluded. While the motion is passed, it will have relatively little to do until Scotland Yard s inquiry, known as Operation Hillman, is completed.

The Met has said it won't give any further updates until after the local elections on May 5th. The police investigation may drag on longer, and MPs may want to wait for the final report on the Whitehall investigation run by Sue Gray to be released.

The committee will look into something quite different from the other two investigations. It is not intended to examine the extent of law-breaking but whether Johnson deliberately misled Parliament. Given the ministerial code that bears the prime minister's signature, it is a cardinal offense, given the ministerial code that bears the prime minister's signature states clearly that ministers who do so are expected to offer their resignation.

The committee will have wide-ranging powers to call for papers and other evidential documents, such as photographs, which could prove particularly damning for Johnson and summons witnesses.

The difficulty they will have to prove is that Johnson knowingly misled parliament about his knowledge of law-breaking.

After all the work is completed, the committee can recommend a sanction including the suspension or expulsion of an MP from parliament. Any sanction that is recommended would need the approval of the Commons.

Some allies of Johnson still believe that he would have a chance of survival. Some people argue that voting down the recommendations of a cross-party committee tasked with looking through all the evidence would be politically impossible.