LONDON — Boris Johnson’s birthdays in recent years have had an unmistakable edge of political theater to them.

During his 2020 celebration, Johnson had a cake with colleagues — an incident that later saw him fined by police for breaking pandemic lockdown rules.

On Monday he turns 59, and Parliament will be debating a scathing report that concluded he had lied to the legislative body when trying to explain away that same party.

If the House of Commons does back the conclusions of a damaging report by its Privileges Committee, Johnson could be denied a lifetime pass to parliamentary buildings.

Scathing ‘Partygate’ report says Boris Johnson deliberately misled Parliament

Such a sanction would be humiliating for a politician who, in 2019 led his party to an overwhelming victory at the ballet box and who has made no secret of the fact that he’d like his old job as prime minister back. He avoided the more severe sanction of losing his seat in Parliament by preemptively resigning.

Last week, the Privileges Committee, which has been investigating Johnson for a year, concluded that Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament when he repeatedly assured the House of Commons that all covid rules had been followed at all times at his offices and residences. Misleading Parliament is a serious matter in Britain and can lead to sanctions or a recall election.

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After seeing an early draft of the report, Johnson said that he was a victim of a witch hunt and promptly resigned his seat. If he had not resigned, the committee would have recommended a 90-day suspension, a remarkable slapdown, which could have led to his recall. If Johnson wants to become prime minister again, he will have to win a new parliamentary seat.

Boris Johnson resigns as a member of Parliament over ‘Partygate’

In the meantime, Johnson has landed a plum new job as a weekly columnist for the conservative tabloid the Daily Mail in a nod to his previous career as a journalist. While writing for the Daily Telegraph, he was often a thorn in the side of the prime minister of the day. In a video announcing his appointment to the Daily Mail, Johnson said that he will be writing “exactly what I think about the world,” and that he “may even have to cover politics, from time to time, but I’ll obviously try to do that as little as possible, unless I absolutely have to.”

A number of Conservative prime ministers — past and present — were also under pressure on Monday. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to move on from the Partygate scandal were hampered after the Sunday Mirror newspaper published a video that appeared to show Conservative staff dancing and joking at a time when indoor socializing was banned. The Metropolitan Police said they would review the video.

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David Cameron, the British prime minister from 2010 to 2016, was summoned for another inquiry into the handling of covid-19. Britain recorded one of the world’s highest death tolls in the pandemic and Cameron was grilled on the preparations for the pandemic.

Especially under Johnson, and his short-lived successor Liz Truss, Conservative governments have been weighed down by scandals. The ruling party is trailing the opposition Labour Party badly in the polls, but the government doesn’t need to hold an election before January 2025.


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