Jacob Rees-Mogg in the studio at GB News during his show Jacob Rees-Mogg’s State of The Nation.
A Tory ally of Boris Johnson has hit out at the committee of MPs investigating whether the former PM lied to parliament with his partygate denials.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a cabinet minister in Johnson’s government, claimed the cross-party privileges committee investigating his former boss is “political” – and even suggested it all goes back to “haters of Brexit” trying to bring him down.
It came as the former prime minister turned over his testimony to the seven member-strong committee, which is made up of four Conservative MPs, two Labour and one from the SNP. Their number includes prominent Brexiteer, Bernand Jenkin.
Johnson – who was fined for lockdown rule-breaking – was forced to announce his resignation as Tory leader and PM in July after cabinet allies turned on him with a series of resignations.
The final straw was questions about his judgment over the Chris Pincher affair, after the then-Tory whip was at the centre of drunken groping allegations.
That came on top of Johnson’s attempts to change the rules to prevent the suspension of then-Conservative MP Owen Paterson after he broke lobbying edicts.
On his GB News show, Rees-Mogg said: “The privileges committee is not even a proper legal setup.
“It has a gossamer of constitutional propriety thrown over it, but it is in fact a political committee against Boris Johnson who had a mandate. And why is his mandate challenged? Why has it been successfully challenged?
“Well, of course, it’s by the haters of Brexit, the haters of Brexit who never accepted the election result that he achieved and what he did to take this country out of the European Union.”
If Johnson fails to convince the committee he did not deliberately mislead parliament, he could be found to have committed a contempt of parliament and receive a suspension. Such a move could ultimately end in a by-election.
Johnson was first asked to provide a written submission in July last year, but provided it 48 hours before his televised questioning by the committee on Wednesday afternoon.
Rees-Mogg isn’t the only Johnson outrider to attempt to undermine the committee.
Conor Burns, a Tory MP who served as a minister in Johnson’s government, has raised questions about the committee’s chair, Labour grandee Harriet Harman, and Tory peer Lord Greenhalgh backed a campaign for the four Conservative MPs on the Tory-majority committee to pull out of the “kangaroo court”.
An interim report by the committee earlier this month said evidence strongly suggested breaches of coronavirus rules would have been “obvious” to the then-prime minister.
But Johnson claimed it was “clear” he had not committed a contempt of parliament, arguing there is “no evidence in the report that I knowingly or recklessly misled parliament” or failed to update it in a timely manner.
Johnson has also sought to cast doubt on the findings of Sue Gray’s report on partygate, after she quit the civil service to take up a role in Labour leader Keir Starmer’s office.