Beyond the Spotlight: Exploring the Next Chapter for Boris Johnson


What’s happening? Former prime minister Boris Johnson will take up a role as the Daily Mail’s new columnist, having stepped down from his role as an MP after he was told he would be sanctioned over the Partygate report released this week.
Johnson was found to have misled Parliament over gatherings at Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown and would have been sanctioned with a 90-day ban from the Commons had he not already quit.
The ban would have been long enough to trigger a recall petition and likely a by-election, meaning Johnson jumped before he was pushed.
Johnson is also mulling a future political comeback and continuing his journalism career with a new column at the Mail.
He may have been sacked from his first journalist job for falsifying a quote, but that didn’t stop Johnson from enjoying a successful career as a writer before (and even during) his time in politics.

Boris Johnson’s Future Plans

Up next for the former Telegraph columnist is a column at the Daily Mail, which announced its newest recruit less than a week after Johnson sensationally quit his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat over the Partygate report.
In a tweet on Thursday, the Mail wrote of the reported six-figure deal: “We are delighted to announce Boris Johnson as our new columnist.
On 21 April 2022, Commons ambled the House of a move submitted by the leader of the Labour Party, calling for the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, to be investigated by the Commons Privileges Committee for having potentially misled Parliament over ‘party gate’ allegations.
The committee has since been conducting that investigation. On 9 June 2023, after receiving a draft of the committee’s final report, Boris Johnson announced his resignation as an MP. The committee’s final report, setting out its conclusions and recommendations, was published on 15 June 2023.
The Commons Privileges Committee conducted the investigation. This cross-party committee is tasked with studying potential contempt of Parliament and breaches of privilege.
This means that the investigation is a parliamentary one operating according to the rules and conventions of the UK Parliament. It is separate from the legal process because only parliamentarians can decide about parliamentary privilege issues.

What Lies Ahead?

The Privileges Committee has seven members (including the chair). Conservative MPs are in the majority on the committee, with four MPs: two Labour MPs (one currently chairs the committee) and one SNP MP. The balance of the committee reflects the broader balance of parties in the House of Commons as a whole.
The Privileges Committee is separate from the Standards Committee. From 1995, when the Commons Standards system was established, there was a single Standards and Privileges Committee. Still, the two were split in January 2013 to allow non-MP members, known as lay members, to be appointed to the Standards Committee. The two committees now have the same chair and MP membership but different remits: Privileges deals with issues of privilege (the special protections afforded to the House of Commons to enable it to do its job) and looks into allegations these privileges have been impeded – offences known as contempts of Parliament. The Standards Committee deals with the MPs’ code of conduct – adjudicating and determining sanctions for any cases of misconduct referred to it by the independent parliamentary commissioner for standards – and oversees the Commons standards system.

The Road Ahead for Boris Johnson

Harriet Harman has chaired the committee since the summer of 2022. The Standing Orders – the Commons’ rules – set out that an MP must chair the Standards Committee from the official opposition, and ever since the Standards and Privileges Committee were separated, they have had the same chair and MP membership, with the practical effect that the Privileges Committee is also therefore chaired by an opposition MP. This potentially helps counterbalance any government majority on the committee. Still, as chairs do not vote in committees (except in the event of a tie), the majority can exert considerable influence on the committee’s work.
Previously, the Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant chaired the Privileges and Standards Committees. However, shortly before the Commons agreed in April 2022 to refer Johnson to the Privileges Committee for investigation, Bryant wrote a letter informing MPs that he would recuse himself from any such investigation.

Predictions and Speculations

This is because of Conservative concerns about his previous statements in the media and Bryant’s desire that “the House be seen to proceed fairly without any imputation of unfairness and that the whole House has confidence in the Committee of Privileges’ proceedings.”
Initially, the Privileges Committee decided that in the chair’s absence, Sir Bernard Jenkin – another MP on the committee – would act as chair.
Subsequently, a motion to replace Bryant on the committee with another Labour MP – Harriet Harman – was tabled by the government and approved by the Commons in June 2022. Subsequently, it was announced that the other members of the Privileges Committee had unanimously elected Harman as its chair.

About the author

Olivia Wilson

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