- By Paul Seddon
- Political Correspondent
MPs will later decide whether to approve a report that found Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament over lockdown parties in Number 10.
A year-long inquiry by the Commons Privileges Committee found the former prime minister had repeatedly committed offenses by refusing to partake.
It recommends that he should have been suspended from the Commons for 90 days if he had been an MP.
Rishi Sunak is yet to confirm whether he will vote on its findings.
It will be a free vote for Tory MPs, meaning party bosses – known as whips – will not tell them what to do in the referendum, which is expected to take place on Monday evening after the debate.
Asked by ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Sunak refused to say whether he would vote on the report, saying it was “a matter for the council”. [of Commons]Not for the government”.
“It’s an important distinction, and that’s why I don’t want to affect anyone before that vote,” he said.
Some Conservative MPs may not attend or attend.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who served in Mr Johnson’s cabinet, has confirmed he wants to vote – making Sunak the only member of the government.
Speaking on Sunday, he told the BBC there were areas where Mr Johnson’s behavior had fallen short of expectations, but he did not accept the report’s recommendation for a 90-day suspension.
The vote is politically tricky for the prime minister, who is embroiled in a bitter war of words with his former boss over the resignation honors list.
Mr Sunak vowed to put “integrity” at the heart of his government as he entered Downing Street and will be under pressure from opposition MPs to endorse the findings of the cross-party committee.
But voting for it would infuriate Mr Johnson’s supporters, some of whom have attacked the committee over its decisions.
Mr Johnson himself slammed the committee, announcing he was resigning as an MP before the report was published, branding it a “kangaroo court”.
Commons votes are initially conducted by voice, with one division – where MPs go to the voting lobbies to register their support – called only if the Speaker thinks the result is not clear.
Opposition MPs are then expected to shout “aye” to ratify the statement, but if no MP in the House shouts “no”, no division occurs, meaning individual MPs’ votes are not recorded.
In their report, the Privileges Committee said Mr Johnson had deliberately misled MPs when he promised that lockdown rules would always be followed in Number 10 after the Particate scandal emerged.
Mr Johnson argued during the trial that the statements he made were made in good faith and were made on the advice of the authorities.
But MPs found he had “personal knowledge” of instances of rule-breaking and failed to “actively” investigate allegations of breaches of Covid rules during the pandemic.
He has made several “insults” of Parliament – including attacking the committee, who justified the 90-day ban, which is long by the standards of recent years.
The report also recommends that Mr Johnson should be denied parliamentary clearance, as he would normally be a former MP.
Many of Mr Johnson’s allies have heaped criticism on the panel’s findings.
Nadine Dorries, who was the culture secretary in Mr Johnson’s cabinet, said the group was “overwhelmed”, warning that any Tory MP voting to endorse it would be “reckoned” by party members.
However, it is unclear how many of his allies are ultimately willing to register their opposition.