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Boris Johnson allies rebuked by MPs over ‘interference campaign’ against Partygate probe

MPs on Monday approved the latest report, which singled out seven Tory MPs and three Tory peers as being part of a ‘co-ordinated campaign of interference’

MPs have approved the Privileges Committee report that rebuked the conduct of Boris Johnson’s allies.

MPs on Monday approved the latest report, which singled out seven Tory MPs and three Tory peers as being part of a “co-ordinated campaign of interference” with the committee’s inquiry into former PM Boris Johnson’s conduct.

Those named by the report included close Johnson allies Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries, Priti Patel, Andrea Jenkyns and Michael Fabricant.

The motion, nodded through without a formal vote, also sought to make clear about how MPs should behave when a Privileges Committee inquiry is taking place.

The committee had heavily criticised the MPs and peers named for their “vociferous attacks” against its inquiry into Mr Johnson, after some described it as a “witch hunt” and “kangaroo court”.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said she hoped it would be the “end of this sorry affair”, adding: “I hope colleagues who have been named will reflect on their actions. One of the most painful aspects of this whole affair is that it has involved animosities between colleagues and colleagues of the same political hue.

“But I know of at least one member named in the report who has taken the time to speak with regret to some other members of that committee and I applaud them for doing so.

“I hope that some speeches we might hear this afternoon will acknowledge that obligation we have to one another as colleagues. If Castlereagh and Canning could adopt polite civility after fighting a duel, I live in hope that today will be the end of this sorry affair.”

But there was little contrition from those named.

Dame Priti Patel told MPs the vote would set a “dangerous precedent”, adding: “I do feel that the assertions that have been made and the claims that have been made in this special report are wrong and cannot be substantiated by the so-called evidence that has been produced and published.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Commons: “There are some issues with this report, I think beginning, as it happens, with its title, ‘co-ordinated campaign of interference’… there is no evidence that it was co-ordinated… to make an assertion of co-ordination without evidence is a problem with this report.”

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, also among those named, told the Commons that the decision was a “slippery slope,” before mistakenly claiming: “Magna Carta was issued in June 2015, and was the first document to limit power and formalise the concept that no authority, not even the king, was above the law.”

Rishi Sunak was not present, instead attending a meeting ahead of Tuesday’s Nato summit in Lithuania.

A spokesperson said the report was “rightly a matter for the House” and that the Government “will monitor developments in the House and see whether there is a vote moved”.

“He’s fully aware of the findings of the report. I haven’t spoken specifically about whether he’s read every page,” they continued.

Mr Sunak has previously refused to condemn the Tory MPs accused of trying to undermine and intimidate the Privileges Committee, insisting he still has “confidence” in those named in the damning report.

Mr Sunak also skipped the debate and vote last month on whether to impose sanctions on Mr Johnson, citing other diary commitments.

The debate followed the publication of the Privileges Committee report which concluded the former PM had knowingly misled MPs over parties that took place in Downing Street during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mr Sunak’s spokesperson said at the time that he was not planning to attend Parliament for the debate due to “commitments that he can’t move”, including welcoming the prime minister of Sweden to Downing Street and a series of other meetings.

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