London: British lawmakers have ordered a parliamentary investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson for allegedly lying about whether he broke coronavirus restrictions by attending illegal gatherings during the pandemic.
The move, approved by cries of “aye” and without a formal vote in the House of Commons, means Parliament’s Committee of Privileges will investigate whether Johnson knowingly misled Parliament — historically a resigning offense if proven.
The probe piles more pressure on a Conservative prime minister whose grip on power has been shaken by claims he flouted the pandemic rules he imposed on the country, then repeatedly failed to own up to it.
The move was instigated by the opposition Labour Party and passed after the government abandoned efforts to get Conservative lawmakers to block it.
Johnson was fined 50 pounds ($66) by police last week for attending a party in his office in June 2020.
The move would put more pressure on a Conservative prime minister whose grip on power has been shaken by claims he flouted the pandemic rules he imposed on his country and then repeatedly failed to own up to it.
Johnson was fined 50 pounds ($66) by police last week for attending his own birthday party in his office in June 2020, when people in Britain were barred from meeting up with friends and family, or even visiting dying relatives. Johnson is the first British prime minister ever found to have broken the law while in office.
He has apologised, but denied he knowingly broke the rules. Johnson’s shifting defence — initially saying there were no illegal gatherings, then claiming it “did not occur to me” that the birthday event was a party — has drawn derision and outrage from opponents, who have called for him to quit.
“The truth is simple and it’s this – he lied to avoid getting caught, and once he got caught, he lied again,” Scottish National Party lawmaker Ian Blackford said in the House of Commons.
Usually lawmakers are forbidden from accusing one another of lying, but Blackford was not reprimanded by the Speaker.