Boris Johnson has resigned as an MP, warning that the “kangaroo court” investigating him over partygate is determined to find him guilty.
The former prime minister announced he is standing down in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency ahead of the Privileges Committee report into whether he misled Parliament.
In an angry statement he accused the cross-party group of MPs of being biased and said he was “bewildered and appalled” that it was trying to force him out of parliament.
The committee wrote a “warning letter” to Mr Johnson earlier this week outlining how it intends to criticise him in its final report.
It has been investigating whether he misled Parliament when he told MPs that there had been no lockdown parties in Downing Street.
The former prime minister said the committee had “still not produced a shred of evidence” that he “knowingly or recklessly” did so.
But “much to my amazement they are determined to use the proceedings to drive me out of Parliament”.
Mr Johnson had a potshot at Harriet Harman, the Labour MP who has been chairing the investigation, saying she had overseen “egregious bias” against him.
“Most members of the committee - especially the chair - had already expressed deeply prejudicial remarks about my guilt before they had even seen the evidence,” he said.
“They should have recused themselves. Of course, it suits the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the SNP to do whatever they can to remove me from Parliament.”
His resignation will trigger a second tricky by-election for Mr Sunak, after his close ally Nadine Dorries also quit the Commons earlier on Friday.
The Tories have a majority of just over 7,000 in the seat, which will now be a key target for Labour which came second in 2019.
In a lengthy resignation statement Mr Johnson said: “I did not lie, and I believe that in their hearts the committee know it.
“But they have wilfully chosen to ignore the truth because from the outset their purpose has not been to discover the truth, or genuinely to understand what was in my mind when I spoke in the Commons.
“Their purpose from the beginning has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts. This is the very definition of a kangaroo court.”
Mr Johnson also took a parting shot at Rishi Sunak, berating his successor for abandoning many of the pledges he made whilst in Downing Street and warning the Tories risk sleepwalking to a heavy defeat at the next election.
Mr Johnson added to calls for the Prime Minister to reverse his economic policies and introduce tax cuts swiftly.
“Our party urgently needs to recapture its sense of momentum and its belief in what this country can do,” he said.
“We need to show how we are making the most of Brexit and we need in the next months to be setting out a pro-growth and pro-investment agenda.
“We need to cut business and personal taxes - and not just as pre-election gimmicks - rather than endlessly putting them up.
“We must not be afraid to be a proper Conservative government.”
The quitting MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip was first elected to the House of Commons in 2001 alongside David Cameron and George Osborne, part of a new Tory generation.
He would go on to serve two terms as London mayor - winning in the country’s capital city which traditionally votes Labour - before returning to Parliament in the 2015 general election.
Mr Johnson has been dubbed one of the most consequential prime ministers of recent decades due to his central role in delivering the UK’s exit from the European Union.
He was the figurehead of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum which saw the country vote for Brexit and then secured the departure when in Downing Street on 31 January 2020.
Mr Johnson’s three-year run in Downing Street - he took office in July 2019 and departed in September 2022 - was brought to an end after a spate of ministerial resignations.
The news is complicated by the fact that Mr Johnson had long been rumoured to be considering a switch of constituencies, given he was at risk from defeat due to a slim majority in Uxbridge.
It was notable that Mr Johnson left the door open to a possible return to the Commons, saying in his lengthy statement that he was leaving Parliament “for now”.
But how and when such a return could come is unclear. A general election is due to be carried out before the end of next year, leaving little time for an about turn.
Any attempt to be selected as the Tory candidate in a different seat could be complicated by his tense relationship with Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister who quit Mr Johnson’s cabinet, triggering his fall.
Following the announcement, Angela Rayner, the Deputy Labour leader, 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.”
Sir Michael Fabricant, who received a knighthood in Boris Johnson’s long-awaited resignation honours list, said the former prime minister had been the subject of “disgraceful treatment” after he resigned as an MP.
He tweeted: “Disgraceful treatment of a political leader who has made world history.”