Boris Johnson resigns as MP with immediate effect

Former UK prime minister says parliamentary investigation was attempting to drive him out

Boris Johnson's resignation will trigger a by-election in his west London constituency. AP
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Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson has announced he has resigned as a member of parliament with immediate effect.

The move will trigger a by-election in his west London constituency.

The announcement came after the Privileges Committee recommended a 10-day suspension after it found that he had misled parliament over “partygate” during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement to the media, Mr Johnson compared the investigation to a “kangaroo court”.

He said, after receiving a letter from the committee, that he believed it was “determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of parliament”.

His letter included a personal attack on the role of the senior MP Harriet Harman, who led the inquiry.

“It is very sad to be leaving parliament – at least for now – but above all I am bewildered and appalled that I can be forced out, anti-democratically, by a committee chaired and managed by Harriet Harman, with such egregious bias,” he said.

The Privileges Committee has been investigating whether Mr Johnson misled MPs when he assured them that Covid rules were followed in No 10 Downing Street after allegations of lockdown-busting parties.

The cross-party panel of MPs will meet on Monday to complete its report, a representative said following Mr Johnson's resignation.

“The committee has followed the procedures and the mandate of the House at all times and will continue to do so,” a statement said.

“Mr Johnson has departed from the processes of the House and has impugned the integrity of the House by his statement.

“The committee will meet on Monday to conclude the inquiry and to publish its report promptly.”

In a lengthy statement of his own, Mr Johnson accused the committee of producing a yet-to-be-published report “riddled with inaccuracies and reeking of prejudice” while providing him with “no formal ability to challenge anything they say”.

He said the panel of MPs had “still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the Commons”.

“Of course, it suits the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the SNP to do whatever they can to remove me from parliament,” he added.

“Sadly, as we saw in July last year, there are currently some Tory MPs who share that view. I am not alone in thinking that there is a witch hunt under way, to take revenge for Brexit and ultimately to reverse the 2016 referendum result.”

The 2019 election winner laid out a series of political criticisms of his successor Rishi Sunak, including a supposed failure to seal a free trade deal with Washington on a trip there this week.

“We must not be afraid to be a properly Conservative government,” he wrote. “Why have we junked measures to help people into housing or to scrap EU directives or to promote animal welfare?

“We need to deliver on the 2019 manifesto, which was endorsed by 14 million people.”

The witch-hunt he described was to “find me guilty, regardless of the facts”.

“So I have today written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say that I am stepping down forthwith and triggering an immediate by-election,” he said.

“I am very sorry to leave my wonderful constituency. It has been a huge honour to serve them, both as mayor and MP.”

Mr Johnson warned Mr Sunak that his government had lost valuable political capital.

“When I left office last year, the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened,” he said.

“Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.

The announcement, coming only hours after his resignation honours list had been published, means the Conservative Party is likely to face a tough battle to hold on to his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat.

It was the second by-election triggered on Friday following former culture secretary Nadine Dorries’s decision to quit the House of Commons immediately, rather than wait until the next election.

Updated: June 10, 2023, 8:20 AM