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'Petulant and harsh' Boris sanctions stopped me backing Partygate report, says MP

Sir Michael Fabricant said he would have backed the privileges committee's 'Partygate' report had the sanctions against Boris Johnson not been so "petulant and harsh".

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Boris Johnson quit as an MP ahead of the publication of the report

The Lichfield MP joined 224 other Tory MPs – including many across the Black Country and Staffordshire – in abstaining in Monday's vote, which passed with an overwhelming majority.

He said he "did not disagree" with the committee's view that Mr Johnson had knowingly misled parliament, but said he was against the "sentence" of a 90-day parliamentary suspension.

Sir Michael called for future votes on privileges committee reports to be split into separate motions.

He said: "Although I do not disagree with the overall findings of the committee, I thought the punishment was both petulant and harsh. The committee seemed to be as much concerned by the criticism of it than by the actions of Boris Johnson during Covid.

"As there was not an opportunity to cast separate votes on the findings – with which I would have voted to agree – and the 'sentence' – with which I would have voted against, I along with half of all the MPs in the House of Commons, chose to abstain.

"I think in future, votes on reports from the privileges committee, there should be two separate motions; one on the findings of the committee and the other on the sanctions to be applied."

Meanwhile Sir Bill Cash – one of only seven MPs to vote against the findings – warned that Parliament's backing of the report will come back to haunt any future Labour government.

He said the committee's claim that Mr Johnson had knowingly misled parliament could not be supported from a legal standpoint, and that the "regulations and the guidance entirely lacked legal certainty".

Stone MP Sir Bill said: "Those who argue that now the report has been published it is all over and done, and those who say that the dogs bark but the caravan moves on, miss the wood for the trees.

"The caravan of this House, having moved on, will certainly come back.

"Then the dogs will not merely bark, but they will bite, and Parliament will be the victim, and it is likely that any future Labour government will get caught up in it – although heaven forbid one should ever be elected."

Mr Johnson had already quit the Commons ahead of the publication of the report, which he branded "complete tripe".