Could Boris Johnson be impeached?

What exactly would happen if this were to go ahead?

You may have heard already by now that Wednesday night in Parliament was not one that any of us want to dwell on.

Boris Johnson has been hounded for the way he acted and what he said relating to several issues, but namely his words about murdered MP, Jo Cox. The Prime Minister suggested that the best way to honour Jo, who voted to remain, was to get Brexit done. It’s left a very sour taste in all our mouths.

Amidst the shocked reactions to Boris Johnson’s behaviour, Plaid Cymru called for Johnson to be impeached, a term most of us have probably only heard in relation to American presidents.

The Prime Minister flew back from New York yesterday as Parliament reconvened after the Supreme Court’s decision to rule his prorogation of Parliament unlawful.

Johnson had initially claimed that his reason for suspending Parliament was to set a new domestic agenda through a Queen’s Speech but on Tuesday 24 September a historical ruling by the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Johnson’s advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was unlawful but it frustrated Parliament.

The Prime Minister promptly made his statement in which, among other points, he said Brexit on 31 October is still the plan, a new deal may be on the cards, and the Supreme Court is ‘respectfully’ wrong about his suspension of Parliament.

In reaction, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, called on Johnson to be impeached because he mislead the public about his attempt to shut down Parliament.

She reminded Johnson that he had supported Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price back in 2004 and for when he tabled a motion seeking to impeach Tony Blair after lying about the Iraq War.

“The Prime Minister is surely not a man who would like to look inconsistent,” Roberts said.

“So, I ask him: does he still believe it to be right and proper to seek to impeach a prime minister who has been judged to mislead the public?”

As mentioned, impeachment is not a word we usually hear when discussing UK politics, so what would it actually involve?

The House of Commons would first vote on an impeachment motion. If this was passed it could lead to prosecution and a trial.

Historically these trials have taken place in Westminster Hall, on the parliamentary estate.

Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

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5 Responses to “Could Boris Johnson be impeached?”

  1. Rad Doherty

    I am Remain, but I think the suggestion that Boris Johnson should be impeached is wrongheaded. I suppose the English High Court is guilty of “misleading” too?
    If Remain supporting politicians spent half the time focused on how to stop Brexit, or even stop a hard Brexit, that they spend on court cases and senseless personal attacks, then we might get somewhere.
    The prorogation was a perfectly predictable tactic. (And I agree with the English court that is should probably not be considered illegal, but the Supreme Court has established the fact). Move on. What’s the Remain plan? Labour aren’t in a good position to help much there. They support both Remain and Brexit until after the next election.
    There is no mandate for any specific Brexit and certainly for no Brexit. Another referendum would be needed for a mandate.

  2. Patrick Newman

    There may be a problem in getting an accurate account of what he said or wrote when the Privy Council ‘advised’ the Queen. You can be sure he has covered his tracks. However there must be some record of the preparation of the proroguing action. Now that Parliament has resumed it should be possible to order civil servants to release documents etc and conduct interrogations in committee – e.g Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee even if it is led by a Tory (Bernard Jenkin). Of course, he lied to HM – getting the proof might be the problem.

  3. peter smith

    I most certainly think the man should be impeached – he not only mislead parliament and the monarch – he is also deliberatedly inflaming the division withion the country and both between brexiteers and remainers but also engineering a populist backlash against democratically elected members
    The man has to go if he hasn’t got the guts to do the honourable thing and fall on his sword

  4. Gary

    I see several commenters already saying that he will have “covered his tracks” I doubt this very much. It was the lack of any reasonable ‘cover-up’ that saw the Court of Session appeal go against the government. He was damned by his own words. The genie is out of the bottle on that so it simply comes down to parliament’s willingness to firstly – start the process and secondly – complete the process. As a majority is needed to do this then it falls at the first hurdle.

    But SHOULD he be impeached? What would it actually gain? And if parliament didn’t impeach Blair for lying to the house to start a WAR should it have the temerity to impeach Johnson for closing parliament? No, Blair’s lies led directly to hundreds of thousands of deaths. The vast majority of whom were innocent civilians. Men, women and children died because he told lies to the House of Commons. So I don’t see THIS case making a bigger splash than that one.

    We must be realistic about Brexit. The country was promised a referendum by the Tories, unexpectedly they won with a decent majority and, much to Cameron’s chagrin, he had to hold it. He had failed to learn the lessons of the Scottish Indy Ref and went ahead thinking all would be well. He warned that there would be no way back, we would leave the EU and the ‘institutions of the EU’ The result came in, unexpectedly a loss, and Cameron resigned to allow another to implement Brexit after promising the result WOULD be upheld. MPs of both major parties promised to ‘honour the result’ and they then voted to trigger Article 50. The May led Tory government went on with the task of negotiations, a GE was called and the main parties promised, again, to uphold the result. We are three years on and the result is still the same and the promise remains. There is no way, democratically, to overturn it. 90% of people, regardless of how they voted, want the government to get it over with. The ‘division’ is largely manufactured. Shrill voices on either side of the debate make much noise whilst 90% of us simply realise that democracy must run its course. We accept the result.

    We MUST stop this talk of overturning the vote, we must get on and get as good a deal in the ‘future relationship’ as possible. We haven’t even begun to discuss this yet and that is the meat of the problem. We are stuck over the ‘backstop’ and stuck because the Tories terrorist-sympathising friends in the DUP are digging their heels in, these creeps won’t be happy until there’s barbed wire at the border.

    Meantime, back at Westminster, our MPs are arguing about how they argue with each other. Instead of doing literally ANYTHING else they waste our time doing this introspective navel gazing.

    This country needs to move forward, we CAN’T rerun the referendum, the public would see that for what it was, an insult to democracy. Remember, democracy will produce results you HATE and yet you have to live with, this is one of those times. Just because it’s a stupid idea doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Neither should anyone take the ridiculous advice of Swinson to simply ‘revoke’ Article 50. Even those who voted remain would lose confidence in a system that overturns results it doesn’t like. This has been done in other countries, notably Ireland, and they were rightly criticised heavily at home and in our press too.

    We simply have to move the debate on. There is no ‘Remain’ side any more, that vote has been cast, it is over.

  5. Leslé

    Just like banks who are too big to fail, so the same can be said about politicians it seems. We certainly need to be rid of this tiresome PM, but hopefully all opposition MPs will unite to find a way to make that happen. One wonders why insider trading rules aren’t applied to people who manipulate Parliament and law to enhance the wealth of their friends and financial supporters, i.e. in recent years the association so many MPs have with private medicine at a time when the NHS is being gradually privatised. But certainly and most especially at this time when so much harm will come to the most vulnerable as a result of the acts of the most able to weather any storm, if Johnson’s obscene plan to crash out of the EU on 31st October goes ahead. Acts of Parliament, impeachment, court cases, bring it on, it’s all grist to the mill.

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