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UK MPs uphold contempt probe against Prime Minister Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the parliament in London, Jan. 12, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

British lawmakers have agreed to put Prime Minister Boris Johnson under investigation to determine whether he lied to parliament over lockdown-breaking parties at his office.

On Thursday, British lawmakers voted through a motion after a day-long debate that saw some of Johnson's own MPs call for his resignation over the "Partygate" revelations.

The probe is aimed to see into allegations that Johnson misled parliament in his initial responses to reports that he and his staff broke COVID-19 lockdown rules.

Lawmakers approved a motion calling for a parliamentary committee to determine whether Johnson's denials of rule-breaking amounted to a contempt of the House of Commons in light of his subsequent police fine for breaching regulations.

The motion was passed without any opposition after the government abandoned an earlier attempt to delay any decision on whether or not to hold the investigation.

Johnson’s spokesman said earlier the same day that members of the Conservative Party will be free to vote in favor of holding an investigation, while the opposition members also secured the right to vote on the motion.

The development comes after the Tory MPs were not successful in blocking or delaying the inquiry with an amendment.

“I understand it is now the intention of the government not to move that amendment,” House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle told lawmakers on Thursday.

Johnson apologized to the parliament on Wednesday after becoming the first British leader fined for breaking the law by attending parties while his own administration had enforced strict pandemic lockdowns, including restrictions on gatherings.

“That was my mistake and I apologize for it unreservedly,” he said, addressing parliament for the first time since the April 12 fining.

However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MPs that Britons “don't believe a word the prime minister says,” adding that he's a “man without shame.”

Deliberately misleading parliament represents a breach of the ministerial code, and ministers who do so are expected to resign.

According to the government website, the ministerial code sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duties.

Peter Hennessy, a historian and member of the upper house of parliament, said earlier this week that the PM effectively “shredded the ministerial code” after he told parliament last year that all rules were followed in Downing Street during the pandemic.

The opposition has repeatedly called for his resignation over the so-called partygate scandal.

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