Sunak to give MPs free vote on possible Johnson Partygate sanctions

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Rishi Sunak has said he will let MPs make decisions “as individuals” about how to vote on any sanctions imposed on Boris Johnson by the privileges committee if they determine he has lied to parliament.

The former prime minister has submitted a 50-page dossier laying out his defence to the committee, which will hold a televised hearing with him on Wednesday.

The defence is expected to be published on Tuesday, after legal advisers and Commons officials were combing through the dossier “in the interests of making appropriate redactions to protect the identity of some witnesses”, a spokesperson for the committee said.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Sunak would not say whether he agreed with Johnson that it was a “witch-hunt” against him.

“That’s ultimately something for Boris Johnson and he’ll have the committee process to go through and that’s a matter for parliament,” he said. “That’s not what I’m focused on.”

Sunak confirmed the vote on any sanctions would be a free vote in parliament, suggesting that was the normal procedure.

Related: What sanctions could Boris Johnson face from Partygate inquiry?

MPs have previously been whipped on potential sanctions, including the censure of the former MP Owen Paterson and an attempt to whip MPs to vote against the privileges investigation into Johnson – which was then abandoned because of a threatened rebellion.

Sunak told BBC Breakfast his government would not make a recommendation to MPs: “These are matters for parliament and the house and MPs as individuals, rather than for government. So that is the general process that we will follow.”

Johnson’s defence dossier is said to contain new evidence that the privileges committee has not yet published. It reportedly contains a message from Jack Doyle, the former prime minister’s then director of communications, showing Johnson was given a “line to take” that no rules were broken that he later relied on when giving the same assurance in parliament.

In his interview, Sunak also rebuffed questions on the future of his deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, who is still under investigation by an independent KC for allegations of bullying officials.

“I’m not going to pre-empt a process that hasn’t concluded. People can judge me by my actions. In the past when there’s been issues like this, I’ve made sure that they were investigated properly,” he said.

“I was the one who initiated this investigation. I was the one who appointed a leading independent KC to get to the bottom of it.”