Johnson allies Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries criticised for attacks on MPs

Two of former PM's most ardent loyalists used their TV shows to undermine Parliament, says privileges committee

Nadine Dorries, an ally of former UK prime minister Boris Johnson, was accused of attacking the privileges committee. EPA
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Allies of former British prime minister Boris Johnson, including MPs Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have been criticised by the privileges committee in Parliament for “undermining procedures of the House of Commons”.

The panel of seven MPs said a small group of politicians loyal to the former prime minister had used newspapers, radio and social media to cast doubt on the committee’s findings that Mr Johnson had misled parliament.

The committee said it was “particularly concerned about attacks mounted by experienced colleagues” including Ms Dorries, a former culture secretary, and Mr Rees-Mogg, a former leader of the House of Commons. Together with at least three members of the House of Lords, they “took it upon themselves to undermine procedures of the House of Commons,” the committee said.

Referring to Ms Dorries and Mr Rees-Mogg, the panel accused them of “mounting the most vociferous attacks on the committee” by using “the platform of their own hosted TV shows”.

The criticism was outlined in a special supplementary report titled Co-ordinated campaign of interference in the work of the Privileges Committee and published on Thursday.

Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House of Commons, said MPs will debate the report on July 10.

“I hope this reassures the House how seriously the government takes these matters of privilege,” she told MPs.

Tory MPs Michael Fabricant and Priti Patel, as well as peers including Lord Goldsmith – a serving minister – were also named in the report.

No 10 said the Prime Minister retained full confidence in Lord Goldsmith, a minister in the Foreign Office.

The spokesman pointed to the Prime Minister's previous comments saying he “supported and respected” the privileges committee.

Asked if he thought MPs having their own TV shows was a good use of their time, Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said it is a “decision for MPs to justify to their constituents in the first instance, rather than for the Prime Minister to decide”.

The politicians named in the report could face punishment for their conduct.

The committee said MPs should consider whether their actions could be considered contempt of Parliament and what further action to take.

Staunch backers of Mr Johnson attacked the Conservative-majority committee, which has a Labour MP as its chair, over its findings that the ex-prime minister had misled MPs over partygate. They dubbed it a “kangaroo court” and claimed Mr Johnson had fallen victim to a “witch hunt”.

The committee referenced Mr Fabricant's Tweet from June 9 in which he cast doubt on the effectiveness of the probe.

“Serious questions will need to be asked about the manner in which the investigation was conducted,” Mr Fabricant wrote on Twitter. “These were no jurists as was apparent by the tone of the examination. The question of calibre, malice and prejudice will need to be answered now or by historians.”

On Thursday, he tweeted: “I stand by my statement. Some of the members of the privileges committee treated their witness, Boris Johnson, with contempt by gestures and other actions. Had it been in a law court, the judge would have called them to order. Respect for the committee needs to be earned.”

Other MPs quoted in the report include Mark Jenkinson, Brendan Clarke-Smith and Andrea Jenkyns.

The report said the MPs criticised “did not choose to engage through any proper process such as the submission of letters or evidence to our inquiry, but by attacking the members of the committee, in order to influence their judgment”.

Their aim was to “influence the outcome of the inquiry”, “impede the work of the committee by inducing members to resign from it”, “discredit the committee’s conclusions if those conclusions were not what they wanted” and “discredit the committee as a whole”, it said.

Earlier this month, the committee ruled that Mr Johnson had lied to parliament with his assurances over lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

He dramatically quit days before the release of the report, but has hinted at a return to frontline politics.

Updated: June 29, 2023, 2:40 PM