Previous penalties for MPs that could top Boris Johnson’s 10-day suspension

Boris Johnson is facing fresh questions about his behavior during Partygate after the Cabinet Office sent the former prime minister to the police over possible lockdown rule breaches.

It is a difficult time for Mr Johnson, as a cross-party committee of MPs enters its final deliberations on whether he lied to parliament about 10 parties breaking the rules during the Covid crisis.

A clearance of 10 days or more could destroy the former PM’s political future, threatening a by-election in his Uxbridge and Ruislip constituency.

Both the Metropolitan Police and Thames Valley Police are assessing information about Mr Johnson’s time at Checkers, which came from official diary entries reviewed before the Covid public inquiry.

His ministerial diaries reportedly revealed visits to family and friends as well as officials at the PM’s Grace and Grace residence in Buckinghamshire between June 2020 and May 2021.

The latest revelations appeared to raise the risk that the Privileges Committee could clear Mr Johnson. A spokesman said MPs would “take into account” new evidence given to them by the Cabinet Office before making a decision.

A spokesman for the committee said Independent: “The committee will take this evidence and Mr Johnson’s response into account when considering its final report. The committee is making rapid progress in its investigation.”

If a suspension of at least 10 days is recommended by the committee and voted on by MPs, its constituents can organize a recall petition. If 10 percent of the area’s registered voters sign it, a by-election is held.

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Recent precedents suggested Mr Johnson could be in trouble. Former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier faces a by-election in her Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency, for example, after receiving a proposed 30-day ban from the Commons.

Margaret Ferrier was elected as an SNP MP in 2019, but was suspended the following year after the party breached Covid rules

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The lengthy ban, recommended by Parliament’s Standards Committee, came after he was found to have spoken in the Commons and taken the train between Scotland and England while positive for Covid.

Former Tory MP Owen Paterson resigned from his North Shropshire seat ahead of facing a by-election after being punished for breaking lobbying rules.

Mr Paterson was hit with a 30-day suspension by the standards committee. He pleaded guilty to lobbying ministers and regulators on behalf of companies paying him more than £100,000 a year.

Owen Patterson resigns after being accused of violating lobbying rules


Former Conservative MP Rob Roberts received a 12-week suspension from Parliament for sexually harassing a member of staff. He was removed from the whip after Parliament’s Independent Expert Panel (IEP) found he had breached the sexual misconduct policy by making an unsolicited offer to a staff member.

But the longer suspension was recommended by the IEP rather than a Commons committee, with Mr Roberts petitioning for recall and avoiding a by-election in his constituency.

Ian Paisley Jnr was the first MP to face a recall petition, when a DUP MP was suspended for 30 days for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

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The DUP’s Ian Paisley was suspended for 30 days

(PA Archive)

But Mr Paisley Jnr forfeited his seat after failing to meet the signature threshold required for a by-election.

However, some MPs have avoided punishment of 10 days or more. Andrew Bridgen was suspended for five days earlier this year after being found to have breached rules on declaring interests in relation to a forestry company.

And former SNP MP Kenny MacAskill, now with the Alba party, was suspended for five days in 2022 for rowdy behavior in the Commons.

The Privileges Committee has contacted Mr Johnson to ask him to respond to the latest evidence provided by the Cabinet Office, delaying final deliberations on whether he has broken parliamentary rules.

But it is not clear whether further police inquiries could further delay the process. The committee was expected to deliver a verdict at its meeting on Tuesday, but it was postponed due to the latest revelations. Guardian,

The committee is preparing the draft of its report. If it is critical of Mr Johnson, relevant material from the draft report will be sent to him in confidence, giving him two weeks to submit a written response before the committee publishes its final report.

Some Tory MPs believe the committee could reduce the suspension to 10 days – even though they expect the former PM to be found guilty of “negligently” misleading the Commons.

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