Lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street could continue to haunt outgoing prime minister Boris Jonhson even after demitting office, as he risks an early vote in his Uxbridge parliamentary constituency.
The House of Commons privileges committee said he will have to face a by-election if it is found that he misled MPs over Partygate.
Johnson faces a parliamentary probe over whether he misled MPs with his comments on the parties.
He had said “all guidance was followed” in Downing Street when the country went into pandemic-induced lockdowns but his claims were proved to be untrue.
The committee said last month that those who wished to submit evidence would have until July 29 to do so.
It has obtained a ruling from Speaker Lindsay Hoyle confirming that if Johnson is found to have been in contempt of parliament, and the committee punishes him with a suspension from the House of Commons, that could trigger the Recall Act, the Guardian reported.
According to the rules, MPs suspended from parliament for 10 days or more or sentenced to imprisonment can face a byelection, if 10 per cent of voters in their constituency sign a petition demanding one.
MPs would have to vote to confirm the suspension, but Johnson could face a humiliating petition, and if local Conservatives allowed him to stand again, the prospect of losing his seat, the newspaper said.
“Looking at contempt in broad terms, intention is not necessary for a contempt to be committed. The Clerk’s memo explains that while ‘much of the commentary has focused on whether Mr Johnson “deliberately” or “knowingly” misled the Committee’, this wording is not in the motion,” the committee’s report said.
Johnson stepped down as the governing Conservative party leader after more than 50 members of his government resigned earlier this month, triggering a Tory leadership race to succeed him.