Who are the seven MPs who will decide Boris Johnson’s fate?

<span>Photograph: Jessica Taylor Handout/EPA</span>
Photograph: Jessica Taylor Handout/EPA

The committee that could ultimately decide Boris Johnson’s fate in politics comprises seven members, but it is probably fair to say that even in Westminster, many people could name only two, perhaps three, if asked.

At the very centre of the storm, aside from Johnson, will be Harriet Harman, the veteran Labour MP who replaced party colleague Chris Bryant on the privileges committee for the duration of the inquiry after Bryant recused himself over his public criticism of Johnson. She was then picked as chair to replace him.

Harman, who will step down at the next election after more than 40 years in parliament, has been targeted by allies of Johnson, who argue that her pronouncements, while notably milder than those of Bryant, mean she is not impartial.

In particular they have pointed to a tweet Harman sent last year which suggested that if Johnson accepted a fixed-penalty notice for attending a No 10 party, which he did, it meant he accepted he had misled the Commons.

Such barrages will most likely be of minimal concern to Harman, who is not only known as being strong-minded and fair, but has faced down much more entrenched forces in her decades as perhaps parliament’s leading advocate for female MPs.

She will also be reassured by the fact that Rishi Sunak and his ministers do not seem minded to play along with intimidation of the committee, with Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader, warning against any attempts to derail the process.

The other MP that Johnson’s team will have briefed the former prime minister to be extremely wary about is the Tory member Bernard Jenkin. In parliament for a mere 30 years, Jenkin shares Johnson’s fervour for Brexit, but is no friend of the man he will help question.

Jenkin has like Harman been a prior critic of Johnson, but is also known for being independently minded and strong on detail.

As chair of the liaison committee, the Commons super group that gathers together the chairs of each subject-specific committee to quiz the incumbent prime minister every few months, he is used to marshalling teams of inquisitors for long periods.

Before then, Jenkin spent years chairing the public administration and constitutional affairs select committee, winning praise for his work in inquiries including into the collapse of children’s charity Kids Company.

The perils for Johnson do not stop there. Another long-serving Tory MP, Charles Walker, can be similarly single-minded and outspoken. In October, a TV interview in which a visibly furious Walker castigated the “absolute disgrace” of Liz Truss’s brief administration went viral.

Similarly, while the SNP’s representative on the committee, Allan Dorans, might be less well-known, before entering politics he was a Metropolitan police officer who rose to the rank of detective inspector. Alberto Costa, a 2015-entrant Tory, was previously a lawyer.

The other two members are Andy Carter, a Conservative MP elected in 2019, and Yvonne Fovargue, a Labour MP and former shadow minister.