“The Prime Minister has always been clear that he is happy to face whatever inquiries Parliament sees fit and he is happy for the House to decide how it wishes to proceed today, and therefore we'll not be whipping Conservative Members of Parliament."

Michael Ellis (Paymaster General), House of Commons

April 20, 2022

Facts 

Boris Johnson had fought almost up to the last minute to block a parliamentary investigation into whether Johnson’s denials of lockdown rule-breaking “appear to amount to misleading the House.” He was forced into a change of mind after a rebellion in Tory ranks. 

Verdict

It was a strict, three-line whip until shortly before the debate started, indicating that the Prime Minister went to great lengths to use government muscle to block the enquiry. The account of events from Michael Ellis was therefore nonsense.  According to the Ministerial Code,  “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.  Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.” Michael Ellis was himself misleading Parliament. He has not corrected his false statement, meaning that he is in breach of the Ministerial Code.

We approached Mr Ellis's office and the Cabinet Office to give him a chance to comment, but received no response.

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