Boris Johnson privileges committee: ‘I much enjoyed our discussion’ and other‘Borisisms’

A defiant and occasionally irritable Boris Johnson addressed MPs in his own idiosyncratic way.

Former prime ministerBoris Johnson appeared before the Privileges Committee today (March 22) arguing that he did not mislead Parliament intentionally or recklessly.

The Uxbridge and South Ruislip Tory MP told MPs in December 2021 that no rules or guidance had been broken at No 10.

A number of newspaper reports, including a story already broken by Pippa Cerrar at the Daily Mirror, showed this was not true - something that was confirmed when Sue Gray delivered her report, commissioned by the PM himself.

Johnson, throughout the pandmic appeared on television to explain the Covid restrictions, argued that he did not know the rules and guidance had been broken.

In his written evidence, Johnson says: “So I accept that the House of Commons was misled by my statements that the Rules and Guidance had been followed completely at No 10. But when the statements were made, they were made in good faith and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time.

“I did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the House on December 1, 2021, December 8, 2021, or on any other date. I would never have dreamed of doing so.”

He also says: “As soon as the Sue Gray investigation and the Metropolitan Police investigation had been concluded, I corrected the record. I believed – and I still believe – that this was the earliest opportunity at which I could make the necessary correction. It was not fair or appropriate to give a half-baked account, before the facts had been fully and properly established, including into many events about which I had no personal knowledge.”

On Wednesday he sat before the committee, chaired by Labour’s Harriet Harman, and repeated his apology that statements transpired to be untrue.

The committee will now decide what recommendations to make. In an extreme case, a recall petition could be sparked, which could lead to an Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP.

‘Borisisms’ in former PM’s defence:

1. ‘I much enjoyed our discussion...well, I... I genuinely think it’s been a useful discussion’

Right at the very end Boris Johnson was given the opportunity to add any final points - and he found himself again uttering an untruth.

“I much enjoyed our discussion,” he said before correcting himself to chuckles from the room.

2. ‘Electrified force field around every human being’

Johnson argued that the 2m and 1m social distancing was always a case of “wherever possible”, and it would not be possible to have an “electrified force field around every human being”.

“It would have been impossible to have a drill sergeant measuring the distance between us, day and night.”

The “electrified fence” came up at least three times.

3. ‘Complete nonsense, complete nonsense’

Questioned about the type of advice taken by Johnson as Partygate claims came out, a het-up former PM produced a “complete nonsense, complete nonsense”.

4. ‘Wittingly misled’

While the PM was unwittingly the host (as Prime Minister) of rule and guidance-breaking lockdown events at No 10, he repeated over and over again that he never “wittingly” misled Parliament.

Rarely has the opposite of “unwittingly” been fielded so frequently in such a short time.

5. ‘He has every motive to lie’

There has clearly been no reconciliation between Johnson and former ally Dominic Cummings. The former PM called for his Bexit colleague’s evidence to be ignored as he said it was uncorroborated.