Ms Truss was speaking at a Tory leadership hustings in Darlington when she insisted that Mr Johnson had not misled Parliament over the scandal. Asked whether she would vote to end the inquiry by MPs on the standards committee, she said: “Yes – but there isn’t a vote and it’s going ahead.”
The Foreign Secretary also appeared to agree with shouts from the audience that the ‘witch-hunt’ in the media was responsible for Mr Johnson’s downfall
Mr Johnson was fined by police for attending a birthday get-together in the Cabinet room during lockdown in June 2020.
A report by Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, on parties in Downing Street and Whitehall found that there were “failures of leadership and judgment in Number 10”.
However, it did not judge whether or not the Prime Minister knew rules were being broken.
Recently, a news report by The Telegraph claimed that former Downing Street aides are preparing to give evidence claiming Boris Johnson misled Parliament over what he knew about the partygate scandal.
The newspaper spoke to three people who alleged that Mr Johnson did not give the fullest account of the facts as he knew them at the time.
One has agreed to give evidence to the committee, and two others are considering likewise.
It comes as Tory grandees try to force the Commons to abandon its investigation, claiming the inquiry has turned into a “kangaroo court”.
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Four of the party’s most senior backbenchers have tabled a motion calling for the privileges committee’s investigation to be “discontinued” and described it as a “stitch-up” to force the Prime Minister out of Parliament.
Sir Bill Cash, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Sir Edward Leigh and David Jones said the committee, chaired by Labour’s Harriet Harman, had moved the goalposts so that Mr Johnson is guaranteed to be found guilty.
Instead of sticking to the established convention of censuring a minister only if they “deliberately or knowingly” misled the Commons – which Mr Johnson denies – the committee will only seek to establish that he misled the House, for which he has already apologised.
The committee has the power to suspend Mr Johnson from Parliament for 10 or more days if it finds him guilty of contempt.
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Sir Bill and the other three MPs believe the committee is wilfully ignoring precedent – and the Commons’ own rulebook – to ensure it can convict Mr Johnson of lying to Parliament.
They have tabled an early day motion in the Commons in the hope that the Speaker will allow the matter to be debated and put to a vote.