Boris Johnson resigns as UK MP for misleading Parliament

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s former prime minister Boris Johnson was shocked Friday to resign as a member of parliament after he was told he would be sanctioned for misleading parliament. He left with a bitter fury at his political opponents – and at his successor, Rishi Sunak – that could have fueled apparent tensions within the ruling Conservative Party.

Johnson stepped down after receiving the results of an inquiry by lawmakers into false statements he made in parliament about the ongoing “participation” of government parties breaking rules during the pandemic.

In a lengthy resignation statement, Johnson accused opponents of trying to oust him — and hinted that he might try to return.

“It’s very sad to leave Parliament – at least for now,” he said.

Johnson said: “I have received a letter from the Privileges Committee – to my surprise – that they are determined to use measures against me to expel me from Parliament.”

He called the panel investigating him a “kangaroo court”.

“Their intent from the beginning was to find me guilty regardless of the facts,” Johnson said.

The resignation will trigger a by-election to replace Johnson, a lawmaker for the suburban London constituency.

A rollercoaster of scandals and comebacks, Johnson led the Conservatives to a landslide victory in 2019 but was ousted by his own party three years later.

He was awaiting the outcome of a House of Commons standards committee inquiry into false statements he made in Parliament about gatherings in government buildings in 2020 and 2021 that breached pandemic lockdown rules.

Police eventually issued Johnson with 126 fines for late-night soirees, drinking parties and “wine-time Fridays,” and the scandal helped accelerate his premiership.

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Assuring lawmakers that no rules had been broken, Johnson admitted to misleading parliament, but said he did not do so on purpose.

He told the group he “honestly believed” the five events he attended, including a send-off for an employee and his own surprise birthday party, were “legitimate work meetings.”

The committee was expected to issue its report in the next few weeks, and Johnson could face suspension from the House of Commons if found to have deliberately lied.

By resigning, he avoids a suspension, which could see him ousted from his Commons seat by his constituents, and leaves him free to run for parliament again. His resignation letter suggested he was considering that option. It was heavily criticized for Sunak, who served as Treasury chief in Johnson’s government before jumping ship with several colleagues in July 2022 – the resignations that drove Johnson out.

“A few years after winning the largest majority in nearly half a century, that majority is now at risk,” Johnson said. “Our party urgently needs to regain its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.”

Johnson resigned after King Charles III Loyal Johnson aides and associates were awarded knighthoods and other honors, a political tradition for former prime ministers that drew cries of cronyism from the ousted leader’s opponents.

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