LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers are expected to back a report on Monday that said former Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliberately misled parliament over rule-breaking parties at the heart of government during coronavirus lockdowns.
The decision is likely to further expose divisions in Britain’s governing Conservative Party before a national election expected next year, with some Conservatives saying publicly they will either abstain or vote against the report, which recommended a set of sanctions against Johnson.
Still, the report by parliament’s privileges committee is expected to have its findings and recommendations upheld by parliament, with the support of opposition lawmakers.
Johnson resigned as a lawmaker before last week’s public release of the report, which recommended that he be suspended as a lawmaker for 90 days were he still in parliament, and stripped of automatic access to parliament.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to skip the debate and vote in parliament, with the Times newspaper saying he was due to meet his Swedish counterpart in London on Monday.
Sunak has faced pressure over whether he would personally endorse the report.
“Obviously, this is a matter for the House (of Commons), not for the government,” Sunak told ITV when asked how he would vote. “It’s an important distinction. And that’s why we won’t want to influence anyone in advance of that.
“This committee was established under the former prime minister … I’m sure that they’ve done their work thoroughly and I respect them for that.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer challenged Sunak to show up for the vote, saying he has to “show leadership”.
“What his predecessor got up to was unacceptable,” Starmer told the BBC. “If the prime minister wants to lead, he has to come in to parliament and vote in this debate this afternoon to show where he stands on this issue.”
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Kylie MacLellan, editing by Ed Osmond)