MPs have voted to back a report that found Boris Johnson lied to Parliament over partygate, as Rishi Sunak steered clear of the Commons debate on its findings.

The number of MPs that supported the findings was 354, the No's had seven.

Inside the House, a comment of "Who are you?" was heard in reference to the seven MPs who voted against the report.

Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers was played outside Parliament with "Baby" replaced with "Boris".

It was not clear whether there would ultimately be a vote on the conclusions of the report, which could have gone through unanimously. However, there were objections from the Labour chief whip causing a division, possibly to get the Johnson supporters on record through the vote.

Conservative MPs were given a free vote, but allies of Johnson warned MPs they could face battles with constituents to remain as candidates at the next election if they back the motion.

Sunak claimed his reticence about publicising his view on the report’s conclusions was because he “wouldn’t want to influence anyone in advance” of the potential vote, however SNP MP Deirdre Brock said it would be a “spineless dereliction of the responsibilities of his office if [Rishi Sunak] doesn’t show active support for the committee’s recommendations”.

Publicly backing the report and its sanctions could have risked deepening the Tory civil war between Johnson loyalists and his own administration.

Johnson had urged his allies not to oppose the report, arguing that the sanctions have no practical effect, although critics argue that the level of support shown for him would have been very low anyway.

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As Johnson has resigned, any recommendations the Privileges Committee put forward cannot be upheld. 

The cross-party committees report had concluded that Johnson should have faced a 90-day suspension for misleading the House when he told the Commons that Covid rules were obeyed in Number 10 despite parties taking place.

It also recommended banning the former prime minister from receiving a pass to access Parliament which is usually available to former MPs.

SNP Commons leader Brock told the Commons during the debate: “We need to turn our gaze to all the members opposite who ignored his track record, indulged his behaviour, and the obvious failings of the man simply because (they) thought he could win them their seat.

“At the very least they should show some remorse for that cynicism, accept the recommendations of this report and vote for those recommendations.

“And if they don’t, I hope their cowardly refusal will dog them for the rest of their political lives. If ever there was a moment for them to stand up and be counted, it is now.”

Johnson and his loyalists had sought to discredit the committee’s inquiry, including by accusing its chairwoman, veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman, of holding “prejudicial views”.

The National: Harriet HarmanHarriet Harman (Image: PA)

But during the debate, Harman said the Government gave her assurances that she would not be seen as biased in her judgment of Johnson.

After Tory former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg highlighted her tweets criticising the ex-prime minister, Harman said she told the Government she was “more than happy to step aside”.

“I was assured that I should continue the work that the House had mandated with the appointment that the House had put me into and so I did just that,” she added.

Former prime minister Theresa May urged MPs to support the report and made a veiled swipe at Sunak’s absence from the chamber.

She urged her party to “show that we are prepared to act when one of our own, however senior, is found wanting”.

The Prime Minister has been accused of “running scared” for refusing to say on Monday whether he will take part in a potential vote.

He has been urged to “show leadership” on the issue but has insisted he does not want to “influence” how MPs might vote.

Number 10 said earlier in the day that the Prime Minister’s schedule on Monday “doesn’t include attending Parliament” and that he had commitments he “can’t move”.

The National: The PM with Ulf KristerssonThe PM with Ulf Kristersson (Image: PA)

May further added she accepted the committee’s findings and commended its members “for their painstaking work, and for their dignity in the face of slurs on their integrity”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he had afternoon meetings on Monday, including hosting his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, before attending a dinner in the evening.

Pressed repeatedly on whether Sunak could make an appearance in the Commons, the official said: “Currently you’ve got his schedule for today, which doesn’t include attending Parliament.”

The Prime Minister told ITV’s Good Morning Britain the committee had carried out its work “thoroughly” and that he respected the Tory majority-panel.

He added: “It will be up to each and every individual MP to make a decision of what they want to do when the time comes.

“It’s important the Government doesn’t get involved in that because it is a matter for Parliament and members as individuals, not as members (of) Government.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer told the programme the Prime Minister should participate if there is a Commons vote, saying: “He should show leadership – come along, get in the lobby, and show us where he stands on this.”

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Refusing to back this motion would be an insult to bereaved families who grieved alone while Johnson lied and partied.

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“The buck stops at the very top of Government, if Rishi Sunak really wanted to govern with integrity he shouldn’t be running scared of this vote.”

It came as the Metropolitan Police confirmed they were reviewing new material in relation to a Christmas party held at Conservative Campaign Headquarters during the height of the pandemic in December 2020.

Tory activists were invited to what was described as a “jingle and mingle” party, according to the BBC, despite members of the public being banned from seeing each other under Covid regulations in place at the time.

A video of the event published by the Sunday Mirror, which appeared to show Tory staff dancing and joking about coronavirus restrictions, is among the new evidence Scotland Yard is considering.

Both former London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey and Tory aide Ben Mallet, who were handed a peerage and an OBE respectively in Johnson’s resignation honours, attended the gathering.