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Starmer urges Sunak to ‘show leadership’ over privileges committee report on Boris Johnson – UK politics live | Politics

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Starmer urges Sunak to ‘show leadership’ after PM refuses to say if he backs privileges committee report on Boris Johnson

Good morning. This afternoon MPs will be debating a report saying that Boris Johnson lied to parliament about Partygate (“deliberately misled” is the way the report puts it, but it means the same thing), and that by doing so, and by attacking the subsequent inquiry, he committed serious and multiple contempts of parliament. There is no precedent for a parlimentary inquiry saying this as about former prime minister, and so you might expect the current prime minister to have a view on a conclusion this momentuous. But Rishi Sunak is not taking sides.

In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain broadcast this morning, he said that he respected the work done by the committee.


This committee was established under the former prime minister. It commanded the confidence of the house at the time and I’m sure that they have done their work thoroughly and I respect them for that.

But he said he would not be saying whether he backed the privileges committee’s report, and its recommendations, because this was a Commons matter, not a government matter, nad he did not want to “infuence” MPs. He said:

This is a matter for the house rather than the government, that’s an important distinction and that is why I wouldn’t want to influence anyone in advance of that vote.
It will be up to each and every individual MP to make a decision of what they want to do when the time comes, it’s important the government doesn’t get involved in that because it is a matter for parliament and members as individuals, not as members as government.

Given that the whole point of becoming PM is to “influence” how MPs vote, this may be another constitiutional first. But Sunak is clearly worried about antagonising Johnson’s small but vocal and toxic band of supporters in the party, and their more powerful allies in the Tory media.

Downing Street has not said whether Sunak will be in the Commons for the debate later. The Swedish government is reporting that Sunak is meeting Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish PM, in London later today, and so he may have a good excuse not to be there. MPs are expected to approve a motion saying they approve the privileges committee’s report but, with Johnson urging his supporters not to vote against, it could well go through on the nod.

This morning Keir Starmer said Sunak should “show leadership” and back the report. Asked if he thought Sunak should vote in favour of it, Starmer told Good Morning Britain:

Yes, I do. We need to know where Rishi Sunak stands on this.
He should show leadership, come along, get in the lobby and show us where he stands on this.

Starmer has been doing a series of interviews this morning, ahead of a speech later. I will post more from them shortly.


Here is the agenda for the day.

9.15am: Liz Truss, the former PM, speaks at the Xchange conference in Dublin.

10am: Keir Starmer gives a speech in Edinburgh on Labour’s green energy mission.

11am: David Cameron, the former PM, gives evidence to the Covid inquiry.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.


After 3.30pm: MPs debate the privileges committee report saying Boris Johnson deliberately mislead the Commons about Partygate. They are expected to approve a motion tabled by Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, saying “this house approves the fifth report from the committee of privileges”. In theory the debate could run until 10pm, but it is expected to wrap early evening.

If you want to contact me, do try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a PC or a laptop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line, privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate), or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest

Andrew Sparrow

Published: 2023-06-19 08:55:20


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