Tory grassroots last-ditch attempt to save Boris from by-election

The Conservative grassroots website Conservative Post has launched a campaign to demand four Tory MPs on the Privileges Committee investigating Partygate step down from the committee. They are calling on Tory members to send emails to each of the four MPs, warning them that party members will not “tolerate politically motivated attacks against our party” over concerns the investigation is an anti-Boris Labour stitch-up.

The campaign was launched today, hoping that pro-Boris members will put enough pressure on the Tory committee members to scupper the investigation into whether Boris lied to the House of Commons about parties in No. 10. 

Conservative Post, which made headlines last year successfully encouraging thousands of Tory members to demand Tory HQ let them vote for Boris Johnson in the summer leadership election, started the campaign.

Website editor Claire Bullivant describes the investigation as “deeply flawed, biased and unfair, and is bringing both Parliament and our Party into disrepute”.

The website says that a large number of members emailing the four MPs would “send a strong message that we will not tolerate politically motivated attacks against our Party, and that we stand firmly behind our elected representatives.”

The four Tory MPs on the committee are Sir Charles Walker, Sir Bernard Jenkin, Andy Carter and Alberto Costa. 

The Daily Express understands that after just a few hours the MPs received almost 300 emails, each from a party member expressing “our deep concern and disappointment over your participation in the Labour-led investigation” into Boris Johnson. 

The email template continues: “We believe that this investigation is nothing but a politically motivated attack against our former Prime Minister, and it is not based on facts or evidence.

“The processes being applied to our Parliamentary democracy are reminiscent of a banana republic and are no longer objective or independent. 

“We have witnessed collusion within the Civil Service and now within the Conservative Parliamentary Party and the office of the Prime Minister to reputationally smear and impugn Boris Johnson MP.”

Ten days ago the Commons Privileges Committee summoned Boris Johnson to give evidence on whether he misled parliament over what he knew about Downing Street lockdown parties. 

The interim report the Committee published wrote that there is evidence the former PM may have misled parliament on four separate occasions, something Boris passionately denies. 

If the committee concludes Boris did mislead Parliament, he could be suspended from the Commons. A suspension of longer than 10 sitting days could result in a by-election, and Boris losing his Uxbridge seat. 

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Responding to the Conservative Post petition, a spokesperson for the committee told the Daily Express: “The decision to carry out this inquiry was not taken by the Privileges Committee but by the House of Commons as a whole.

“The House unanimously passed a motion to refer this matter to the Committee of Privileges on 21 April. The Committee can only consider matters referred to it by the House, and is duty-bound to proceed with the inquiry following the House’s instruction unless and until it is instructed otherwise.

“The Committee is being advised on process by impartial Clerks of the House of Commons, as well as former senior Judge Sir Ernest Ryder.”

Responding to the Conservative Post’s allegations the investigation has been discredited since Sue Gray’s decision to join Labour as Keir Starmer’s chief of staff, the Privileges Committee spokesperson said the investigation is not based on the Sue Gray report.

They said: “The Committee’s report is based on evidence in the form of: 

  • material supplied by the Government to the Committee in November, including communications such as Whatsapps, emails, and photographs from the official Downing Street photographer. 
  • evidence from witnesses who were present either at the time of the gatherings or at the time of preparation for Boris Johnson’s statements to Parliament. 

“Sue Gray was present at neither and is not one of those witnesses.”

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