Asked about criticism from Johnson and his allies that he was forced out, Shapps told Sky News: “The world has moved on. He is the one who’s removed himself from the current political scene, standing down as a member of parliament.”
Parliament’s privileges committee – the main disciplinary body for lawmakers – had the power to recommend Johnson be suspended from parliament. If the suspension is for more than 10 days, voters in his constituency could have demanded he stood for re-election to continue as their representative.
Johnson, who became prime minister in 2019 with a promise to deliver Brexit, saw his premiership cut short last year in part by anger in his own party and across Britain over COVID rule-breaking lockdown parties in his office and residence.
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His administration’s combative and often chaotic approach to governing and repeated scandals exhausted the goodwill of many of his lawmakers. Opinion polls show he is no longer popular with the public at large.
“I really like Boris and I worked very closely with him,” Shapps told BBC TV. “He had many qualities … but I think people both in the Conservative Party and outside don’t miss the drama of it all.”
Johnson’s former director of communications Guto Harri told Sky News the former leader had been “hounded” out of politics.
In his resignation statement, Johnson railed against the inquiry that examined whether he misled parliament about the gatherings, saying it had not found “a shred of evidence” against him. He also took aim at current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Asked if Johnson would be back, Harri said: “It’s virtually impossible to write him off, but I don’t think this is part of an elaborate plot to sort of destabilise and topple Rishi Sunak.”
“I think Boris Johnson feels that there is an opportunity for him now to go off and lick his wounds, but also seize new opportunities.”
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Jason Neely)
Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.
Published: 2023-06-11 10:15:07