Poll shows Tory members find Boris’ partygate probe ‘unfair’
Boris Johnson says he didn’t believe No. 10 events were illegal
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A new poll by the respected Tory grassroots website Conservative Home reveals party members overwhelmingly believe the investigation into whether Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons over Partygate is “unfair”. Just 29 percent of activists say the Harriet Harman-led probe is fair. However members aren’t keen to see Boris back as Prime Minister. The Conservative Home poll of 650 activists shows Tory members narrowly believe Boris did break lockdown rules.
Despite being fined by the Metropolitan Police, under half – 49 percent – say he broke Covid rules partying in Downing Street, with 38 percent saying he didn’t.
And, despite a plurality of members believing the former premier did break lockdown rules, a large majority say his denials of parties in the House of Commons were “not deliberately” misleading, with 59 percent of activists saying so.
A total of 30 percent of Tory members believe he did deliberately mislead the House. Given this finding, it’s unsurprising that Conservative Party members also believe Harriet Harman’s Privileges Committee investigation into Boris Johnson is “unfair”.
59 percent of members say the probe is unfair versus 29 percent saying it is fair.
While these findings will enthuse Boris and his allies in parliament, on the key question of whether he should return as Prime Minister, Tory members are now much less enthusiastic.
Over two-thirds of Tory activists oppose Mr Johnson returning as Conservative leader and Prime Minister before the next election. Meanwhile just one in four say he should return and lead the party into the 2024 General Election.
A similar Conservative Home poll of the party membership from November, just after Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, found that 30 percent of activists would have voted for Boris Johnson had they had the opportunity, versus 52 percent saying they’d have voted for Rishi Sunak.
Paul Goodman, former MP and editor of the Conservative Home website, observes from the findings that around a quarter of party members are “determined Johnson backers and just under a fifth are dedicated Johnson critics”.
Mr Goodman says the average respondent “regrets [Boris Johnson’s] departure from Downing Street, and feels accusations against him over Covid and parties are unfair
“But doesn’t want him back in Number 10 – for the moment, anyway.” Paul Goodman questions whether party members “believe that the caravan has moved on?”
If the Parliamentary Partygate probe into Mr Johnson finds he did lie to MPs, they could recommend a suspension from the House of Commons.
If MPs voted for a suspension of 10 sitting days or more, Mr Johnson’s West London constituents would be able to vote for a by-election, and if 10% of eligible Uxbridge voters backed a by-election the former PM could face losing his seat.
In light of this, the Conservative Home members panel was asked whether Boris Johnson should be a Conservative Parliamentary candidate at the next election.
An overwhelming 76 percent of members back him being a Tory candidate in the expected 2024 General Election, versus 18 percent who oppose it.
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Boris Johnson will face a four-hour grilling by the Commons Privileges Committee on Wednesday afternoon.He submitted the evidence in his favour yesterday, however Mrs Harman’s failure to publish it led to an outcry from Mr Johnson’s supporters.
A former minister told The Daily Express, “It’s a pity but not a surprise that Harriet Harman’s committee won’t publish Boris’s evidence today. Maybe they need a bit more time to move the goalposts again to get the result they’re after.”
Conservative MP Lia Nici said Mr Johnson is the victim of a “politically coordinated stitch-up” by people who hate him.
It’s expected Boris Johnson’s ‘defence dossier’ will be published by the Privileges Committee later today.
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