Tory MPs have slammed Harriet Harman’s Privileges Committee for going too far in naming and shaming them for supposedly undermining their investigation into Boris Johnson.
Seven Boris-supporting MPs and three Lords are named in the report, and in attacking the committee are grandly accused of “an attack on the legitimacy of Parliament itself”.
Nadine Dorries, Lord Goldsmith, Mark Jenkinson, Michael Fabricant, Brendan Clarke-Smith, Andrea Jenkyns, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel are all named in the report, with comments and tweets cited next to their names.
The report has already sparked fury among some MPs, with Mark Jenkinson – himself accused in the document – saying it is an example of “gross overreach”.
“On publication of the previous report I said it had overreached. Prior to publication I had not referred to the committee.
“Yet in another perfect example of gross overreach, the committee use a tweet that did not refer to them and was about the media witch hunt of Boris Johnson.”
The tweet cited next to his name was made on June 9, as part of a Twitter thread in defence of Boris Johnson, and didn’t once reference the Privileges Committee, begging questions about his inclusion in the report.
Brendan Clarke-Smith, also named, says it’s “vital” MPs can fulfil their role of being able to scrutinise and comment on any matters relating to their work.
“I am shocked and disappointed to be named in this new report.
“This raises serious questions about free speech in a democratic society and my colleagues and I will continue to defend these principles going forward.”
A Tory source excoriated the report, telling the Express: “This report would make Chairman Mao blush.
“Members of parliament have the right to speak freely on matters of their own procedure. This is an ancient right of parliament. The privileges committee is degrading the rights of parliamentarians which is incredibly dangerous.
“This is not North Korea.”
Michael Fabricant says the respect for the committee “needs to be earned”.
It is understood that behind the scenes there is an effort from some senior MPs “to calm things down” and encourage colleagues named in the report not to lash out.
One MP told the Express: “We don’t want to give these clowns on the committee any credibility.”
One former minister claimed the Government knew the report was coming given the role of the Leader of the Commons, and there was no heads up to anyone named in the report in order to damage the reputations of all involved.
Serious concerns are being voiced about the impact of the report.
One senior MP said: “The committee has maligned elected MPs for doing nothing more than upholding the great British tradition of freedom of expression.
“This will have consequences going forward meaning that MPs will no longer be able to speak freely.”
Another MP noted: “Colleagues are concerned that this committee has acted in a way to override the democratic interests of the British people.
“The committee has assumed new powers and seems to think it is beyond scrutiny and criticism.”
MPs will likely debate the report in the chamber over the coming days or weeks.