Boris Johnson resigns as member of Parliament over Partygate report

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LONDON — Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister and a key architect of the Brexit movement, who was forced from high office by his own party because he was deemed untrustworthy, resigned on Friday evening as a member of Parliament with immediate effect.

Heading out the door, Johnson issued a blistering resignation letter after receiving the conclusions of an investigation about whether he had misled parliament about boozy Downing Street parties that had broken lockdown rules imposed by the government during the coronavirus pandemic — a scandal dubbed “Partygate” in the British press.

It was that investigation’s findings, still unseen by the press or public, that pushed him out.

“They have still not produced a shred of evidence that I knowingly or recklessly misled the [House of Commons],” Johnson said in a statement.

He accused the Standards Committee — led by a Labour Party chairwoman, but containing equal numbers of Johnson’s own Conservative Party — of bias against him.

“Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts. This is the very definition of a kangaroo court,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson’s premiership was undone by a string of alcohol-fueled parties at 10 Downing Street during the height of British lockdowns. Johnson himself was fined by police for attending one of them — and so was current prime minister Rishi Sunak.

It wasn’t just the parties that got Johnson in trouble — it was his answers to Parliament about whether the parties happened at all, and, if so, whether Johnson knew they broke the rules.

In March, Johnson admitted to the committee investigating him that some gatherings in Downing Street went “past the point where they could be said to be necessary for work purposes.”

“That was wrong. I bitterly regret it. I understand public anger, and I continue to apologize for what happened on my watch and take full responsibility,” he said.

But he insisted that everything he told lawmakers was in “good faith” and that to the extent that he misled them, it was an honest mistake.

Johnson stepped down as British prime minister in July 2022, having served in the position for three tumultuous years in which he oversaw not only Britain’s exit from the European Union but also led the country through the pandemic and the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Johnson, a former journalist who later served as the Mayor of London, remained a member of parliament representing Uxbridge and South Ruislip until Friday.

Johnson was a celebrated vote-getter — until scandal did him in. In the 2019, Johnson won the election for the Tories in a landslide, wining a 80-seat majority in parliament. There were predictions that he could remain prime minister for two terms — or 10 years. It was not to be.

On Friday, having surrendered his seat on the backbenches of Parliament, Johnson also delivered a barbed farewell to Sunak.

“When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened,” Johnson wrote. “Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk.”

Johnson wrote, “We should remember that more than 17 million voted for Brexit. ”

But even Brexit’s biggest booster, Nigel Farage, recently complained that Brexit has been a flop.

To that Johnson said, “We need to show how we are making the most of Brexit and we need in the next months to be setting out a pro-growth and pro-investment agenda. We need to cut business and personal taxes — and not just as pre-election gimmicks — rather than endlessly putting them up. We must not be afraid to be a properly Conservative government.”

Sunak was in Washington this week to meet with President Biden. The two leaders reaffirmed their continued intent to spearhead the Western alliance backing Ukraine, vowing after a White House meeting that the “special relationship” between their countries would endure despite recent chaos in the British political system.

Sunak acknowledged there was no free trade deal on the horizon.

Biden and Sunak did announce a new economic framework, the Atlantic Declaration, to enhance cooperation on a range of issues including critical and emerging technology, supply chains and clean energy. But the framework falls short of the type of comprehensive free-trade agreement that Sunak’s Conservative Party campaigned on and Johnson promised after Brexit.

In his resignation letter, Johnson asked, “Why have we so passively abandoned the prospect of a Free Trade Deal with the US?”

Johnson also failed to get such a deal.

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