The end of the line for Boris Johnson?

Johnson's effort to defend himself has some pundits forecasting the end of his political career

Boris Johnson
(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Months of recriminations over Britain's "partygate" controversy crescendoed this week with a hearing before the House of Commons' powerful privileges committee in which former Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his actions during the scandal, one of several that contributed to his exit from the job under pressure last year. Johnson, his political future on the line, said during the three-hour hearing that he acted in "good faith" and never intentionally misled Parliament when he said as news of the scandal broke that no illegal gatherings had taken place at his Downing Street offices. "Hand on heart," he said. "I did not lie to the House."

Johnson started out defiantly, saying the effort to hold him in contempt of Parliament was "manifestly unfair" because lawmakers have found no evidence he was warned in advance anything illegal was happening at No. 10 Downing Street. He said a photo of him surrounded by colleagues with drinks showed that "perfect social distancing" wasn't observed, but argued that gathering was essential for work. He said if it was "obvious" that people were breaking lockdown rules, as critics in Parliament have argued, other top officials in his government including current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would have known what was going on, too. Sunak was Johnson's chief financial minister, and his resignation last July set Johnson's downfall in motion.

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.