North Northants Boris Johnson loyalist MPs fail to vote on privileges committee report
All three North Northamptonshire Tory MPs abstained in last night’s (Monday, June 19) commons vote on the partygate committee report.
MPs had gathered in the Commons to debate the report, which issued a damning condemnation of former Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s behaviour during and after the Covid pandemic.
They were then asked to vote to approve the report which concluded Johnson misled the Commons as prime minister.
Johnson resigned in a fury eleven days ago after he was suspended for 90 days following the publication of the report into parties that took place in Downing Street during lockdown.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not appear at last night’s debate, nor the subsequent vote, and told his MPs they would not be whipped so could vote any way they wished.
Wellingborough MP Peter Bone, one of Johnson’s most loyal supporters, has spent the past year doing the rounds of various television and radio panel shows to defend his old boss who made him deputy leader of the House of Commons last summer.
It’s believed Johnson still has significant support within the Wellingborough Conservative Association. Yesterday, Mr Bone was on the Jeremy Vine show on Ch5 where he said he would abstain because Boris Johnson had asked his supporters not to vote.
When pulled up by Vine, Mr Bone replied: “It is a report from a committee - the House of Commons decides. The only thing being decided tonight is whether the ex-prime minister gets a former MP’s pass.
"And the truth of the matter is that’s irrelevant. Of course what will happen is he’ll get a media pass.”
Johnson has recently taken up a role as a columnist with the Daily Mail. It’s not been revealed whether his work will involve any journalism. In 1988 he was sacked from his first reporting job at The Times for fabricating a quote.
Kettering MP Philip Hollobone was also not present for the vote. He had previously been a supporter of Johnson during the Brexit campaign but last year told this newspaper he found reports of the Downing Street parties ‘very disturbing’.
Corby MP Tom Pursglove has also been a big defender of Johnson.
Mr Pursglove backed his boss in a vote of confidence last summer and was given various ministerial roles in his government, although in recent months his support has appeared to wane.
Last night, while MPs were debating the report, he was tweeting about the risk of dogs dying in hot cars.
Some constituents were angry he was not at the debate. Visiting Professor of Nursing at the University of Northampton Dr Stephen O’Brien, who spoke frequently on public health issues during the pandemic, said: “As important as this message is, surely your constituents deserve a comment on the privileges committee report and current debate in the House. But on this day of final reckoning you tweet about dogs in cars.”
Around the rest of Northamptonshire, Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire and Northampton South member Andrew Lewer voted to approve the report. Northampton North and Daventry MPs Sir Michael Ellis and Chris Heaton-Harris, both Johnson allies, abstained.
In the end, just seven MPs voted against approving the report with 354 voting in favour.