Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has resigned as an MP with immediate effect, triggering a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Johnson said he was quitting parliament “at least for now” because he was “bewildered and appalled” at the Privileges Committee’s investigation into him.
The Privileges Committee has been investigating whether Mr Johnson misled MPs when he assured them that Covid rules were followed during lockdown parties. In a scathing attack, he accused the committee of producing a yet-to-be-published report “riddled with inaccuracies and reeking of prejudice” while providing him with “no formal ability to challenge anything they say”.
In a blistering statement on Friday evening, Mr Johnson said he had received a letter from the committee, which is investigating whether he lied to MPs over Partygate, “making it clear, much to my amazement, that they are determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament”.
Mr Johnson said: “I have today written to my association in Uxbridge and South Ruislip to say that I am stepping down forthwith and triggering an immediate by-election.
“I am very sorry to leave my wonderful constituency. It has been a huge honour to serve them, both as mayor and MP.”
He has already been booted from the WhatsApp group for backbench Tory MPs. It came just hours after his resignation honours list was released, which was packed with friends and allies including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Bill Cash, Michael Fabricant and Priti Patel.
The Conservative party will also face a by-election in her mid-Bedfordshire constituency, which had a majority of more than 24,000 votes in the last election. Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “The British public are sick to the back teeth of this never-ending Tory soap opera played out at their expense.
“After 13 years of Conservative chaos, enough is enough. “It’s time to turn the page with a fresh start for Britain with a Labour Government focused on the people’s priorities of tackling the cost of living crisis and building a better future.”
In a rallying call to his followers, Mr Johnson used his resignation statement to deliver a stinging attack on Rishi Sunak’s Government.
“When I left office last year the government was only a handful of points behind in the polls. That gap has now massively widened,” he said. “Just a few years after winning the biggest majority in almost half a century, that majority is now clearly at risk. Our party needs urgently to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do.”
The Privileges Committee had been investigating whether Mr Johnson “knowingly or recklessly” lied to MPs when he said that no Covid regulations had been broken by staff in Downing Street during the lockdown.
He faced a grilling from the cross-party committee in March. The Committee has not responded to Mr Johnson’s claims, nor released its full report. Mr Johnson was re-selected for his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in March despite speculation that he might seek out a safer seat ahead of the next general election.
While Mr Johnson held a 7,000 vote majority, his seat had been seen as a target for Labour. A by-election would have been triggered regardless of his resignation if the committee recommended a suspension from parliament lasting more than 10 days.
Figures released last month showed Mr Johnson has claimed £2.4million ahead of a speaking tour of the United States, according to the latest register of interest for the MP.
Mr Johnson was paid the advance by the prestigious Harry Walker agency which also boasts Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serena Williams among their exclusive clients. Since leaving office, the former PM has given a number of lucrative speeches at conferences in Singapore and the US.