Boris Johnson has resigned as MP and warned the “kangaroo court” investigating him over partygate is determined to find him guilty.
The former prime minister announced he was standing down in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip ahead of the Privileges Committee’s report on whether he had misled parliament.
I have received a letter from the Privileges Committee in which – much to my surprise – they make it clear that they are determined to use the procedure against me to drive me out of Parliament.
They have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons.
They know very well that when I spoke in the House of Commons I said what I honestly believed to be true and what I was instructed to say, like any other minister. They know that I corrected the record as soon as possible; and they know that I and every other senior official and minister – including the current Prime Minister and then resident of the same building, Rishi Sunak – believed that we were legally cooperating.
I have been a Member of Parliament since 2001. I take my responsibilities seriously. I have not lied, and I believe the committee knows that in their hearts. But they deliberately chose to ignore the truth, because from the beginning it was not their goal to discover the truth, or really understand what was going on in my mind when I spoke in the Commons.
Their goal from the start was to find me guilty, regardless of the facts. This is the definition of a kangaroo track.
Most of the committee members – especially the chairman – had already made deeply biased comments about my guilt before they even saw the evidence. They should have retreated.
In retrospect, it was naive and trusting of me to think that this procedure could be even remotely helpful or fair. But I was determined to believe in the system and in justice and defend what I knew was the truth.
It was this same belief in the impartiality of our systems that led me to commission Sue Gray. Clearly my belief is misplaced. Of course it suits the Labor Party, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP to do all they can to remove me from Parliament.
Unfortunately, as we saw last July, there are currently some Tory MPs who share that view. I am not the only one who thinks there is a witch hunt going on to get revenge on Brexit and ultimately overturn the result of the 2016 referendum.
My removal is the necessary first step and I believe there has been a concerted effort to bring it about. I’m afraid I no longer believe it’s a coincidence that Sue Gray – who investigated meetings in number 10 – is now the Labor leader’s designated chief of staff.
Nor do I believe it is a coincidence that its supposedly impartial lead lawyer, Daniel Stilitz KC, turned out to be a strong Labor supporter who repeatedly tweeted personal attacks against me and the government.
When I left office last year, the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now widened enormously.
Only a few years after achieving the largest majority in nearly half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk.
Our party urgently needs to regain its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.
We need to show how we can make the most of Brexit and set a growth and investment agenda in the coming months. We need to reduce corporate and personal taxes – and not just as pre-election gimmicks – rather than ramping them up endlessly.
We shouldn’t be afraid to be a true Conservative government.
Why have we so passively abandoned the prospect of a free trade agreement with the US? Why have we thrown away measures to help people find housing or to scrap EU directives or to promote animal welfare?
We must live up to the 2019 manifesto, which was endorsed by 14 million people. Let’s not forget that over 17 million voted for Brexit.
I am now being forced out of parliament by a small handful of people, with no evidence to back up their claims, and without the approval of even the Conservative Party members, let alone the wider electorate.
I believe a dangerous and disturbing precedent is being set.
The Conservative Party has time to regain its mojo and ambition and win the next election. I had looked forward to providing enthusiastic support as a backbench MP. Harriet Harman’s committee has set out to make that goal utterly untenable.
The commission’s report is riddled with inaccuracies and smacks of prejudice, but under their absurd and unjust process, I have no formal ability to challenge anything they say.
The Privileges Committee is there to protect the privileges of Parliament. That is a very important task. They should not use their powers – which have only been developed very recently – to clearly commit a political attack on someone they oppose.
However, it is in no one’s interest that the process initiated by the committee continues for one more day.
So today I have written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say I am stepping down immediately and triggering an immediate by-election.
I am very sorry to leave my wonderful constituency. It was a great honor to serve them, both as mayor and member of parliament.
But I am proud that, over a period of 15 years in total, I have helped build a huge new railway line on the Elizabeth Line and fully funded a stunning new state-of-the-art hospital for Hillingdon, where the preparatory works have already started.
I also remain immensely proud of everything we have achieved during my tenure as Prime Minister: getting Brexit done, achieving the largest majority in 40 years and achieving the fastest vaccine rollout of any major European country, as well as leading global support for Ukraine.
It is very sad to leave parliament – at least for now – but above all I am stunned and appalled that I could be forced out in an anti-democratic manner by a committee chaired and led by Harriet Harman, with such blatant bias.