Partygate inquiry unlikely to drive stake through the heart of Boris Johnson’s political career

Love him or hate him, everyone knows that Boris Johnson thrives on being the centre of attention.

Next Wednesday afternoon from 2pm the former prime minister will be back in the spotlight at Westminster for a high stakes appearance, which is bound to be a popcorn moment for spectators.

Live on television, members of the cross-party privileges committee will question Mr Johnson for up to four hours on whether he deliberately lied when he told the House of Commons that he had no knowledge of rule-breaking parties in Number 10 during the COVID emergency period.

If the MPs conclude that he is guilty, they will recommend punishment which could lead to him losing his parliamentary seat representing Uxbridge – a calamity which would surely end the political career of a man who would be prime minister again.

Technically the MPs have to decide whether Mr Johnson committed contempt of the House by lying to it about the parties, and not correcting his words subsequently.

It is a trial by his peers.

First, the seven MPs on the privileges committee. Then, if punishment is recommended, the whole House of Commons will say whether to implement it.

The committee’s work has already caused ructions at Westminster.

Chris Bryant, the senior Labour MP who chaired it, stood aside, or rather “recused” himself as the jargon has it, because of previous outspoken criticisms of Mr Johnson.

MPs were reluctant to let the ranking Tory, the maverick Brexiteer Sir Bernard Jenkin take over, so Harrie