Shapps dismisses witch hunt claims, says UK tired of Johnson drama

Grant Shapps, the Energy Secretary, has dismissed the notion that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the victim of a witch hunt, stating that people “want to move on” from the “drama” surrounding him. Johnson resigned as an MP, accusing a “Kangaroo Court” of MPs investigating Partygate of forcing him out. Shapps insisted that it was Johnson’s “own decision” to step down.

Shapps also denied reports that Rishi Sunak’s team had stopped Johnson from handing out honours to key allies. Johnson’s resignation from Parliament came just hours after Downing Street published his resignation honours list, which excluded key allies such as Nadine Dorries, Sir Alok Sharma, and Nigel Adams. All three had anticipated being appointed to the House of Lords, according to sources.

Competing claims about the removal of the names are now at the centre of a rift within the Tory party following Johnson’s resignation. A source familiar with the process informed the BBC that Sunak’s political team had removed some of Johnson’s suggestions months ago. Shapps, however, denied that Sunak’s team had removed the names, stating, “The prime minister has exactly followed the very longstanding conventions” regarding honours.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC) confirmed that it had rejected eight of Johnson’s nominations on the grounds of propriety. Shapps also denied that Sunak’s team had removed names from the list months before the nominations were sent to HOLAC.

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In response to Johnson’s resignation, both Dorries and Adams resigned as MPs, triggering by-elections in their constituencies, both considered safe seats for the Conservatives. Johnson’s resignation also triggers a by-election in his marginal constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. These by-elections have the potential to create significant problems for Sunak, as the Conservatives are currently trailing Labour by an average of 15 points in national polls.

Regarding the suggestion that Johnson had been the victim of a witch hunt, Shapps said, “I don’t think that’s true.” He added that people “don’t miss the drama” of Johnson’s time in office.

Johnson announced his departure from Parliament after seeing an advance report of the findings of the Commons Privileges Committee investigating whether he misled the Commons over Partygate. He referred to the committee as a “kangaroo court” whose purpose “has been to find me guilty, regardless of the facts.” In a written statement, Johnson claimed the draft report from the committee was “riddled with inaccuracies and reeks of prejudice” and that the committee was “determined to use the proceedings against me to drive me out of Parliament.”

When asked about Johnson’s comments, Shapps said, “I haven’t seen what they’ve written, but I have no particular reason to think that is the case.”

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, argued that the fallout from Johnson’s resignation demonstrates the need for a general election. He said, “We have a former prime minister crafting a letter undermining the sitting prime minister. And we’ve got three by-elections brought about, not in the usual way because an MP has passed away, or there has been wrongdoing, but simply because these MPs want to put pressure on the current government. I don’t say this with any glee, I say it because I genuinely believe, in the interests of this country, we need certainty.”

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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