Nadine Dorries has called on the cross-party group of MPs conducting an inquiry into Boris Johnson over his ‘Partygate’ behaviour to ” quit the witch hunt” in comments that have been described as “Trumpian” by people on social media.
The outgoing prime minister has always said he did not knowingly lie when he said no Covid rules were broken in Downing Street.
But the committee, led by veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman, will rule on whether he misled the House, intentionally or unintentionally.
If he is found guilty, Johnson could face a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat which might see him voted out of parliament.
Dorries, Johnson’s closest cabinet ally, tweeted on Sunday: “If this witch hunt continues, it will be the most egregious abuse of power witnessed in Westminster.
“It will cast serious doubt not only on the reputation of individual MPs sitting on the committee, but on the processes of parliament and democracy itself.”
Mail front page
The comments, which feature on the front-page of the Daily Mail, have attracted widespread criticism.
Labour MP Chris Bryant replied: “Let’s talk about abuse of power such as illegally suspending parliament or doling out peerages to donors or tearing up the rules to protect Owen Paterson.
“The real abuse of power would be suspending an inquiry to protect your mate.”
Bryant is the usual chair of the privileges committee, but stood aside for the partygate inquiry given his past criticisms of Johnson.
The committee intends to call the PM to give oral evidence in public in the autumn, under oath.
The committee has already said that whistle-blowers will be able to give evidence about the prime minister anonymously.
Johnson has also been ordered to hand over a cache of documents to the MPs, including diaries, photographs and deleted documents.
Reaction on social media has been fierce.
We’ve rounded up the best: