Boris Johnson has told the parliamentary committee investigating him to publish their “nonsense” after they delayed the publication of a report set to conclude that he misled MPs over lockdown-breaking parties.
The conclusions of the Commons privileges committee investigation into partygate were due to be published on Tuesday, then Wednesday.
Now they are expected on Thursday after the committee revealed that it received a letter from the former prime minister at 11.57pm on Monday, containing what The Telegraph understands is a “point-by-point pushback” of the conclusions.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, Mr Johnson criticised the delay, saying: “The privileges committee should publish their report and let the world judge their nonsense. They have no excuse for delay.
“Their absurdly unfair rules do not even allow any criticism of their findings. I have made my views clear to the committee in writing, and will do so more widely when they finally publish.”
On Friday, Mr Johnson announced that he was quitting as an MP after being shown a draft version of the report, condemning the process as a “witch hunt”.
However, others have pointed out that four of the seven MPs on the committee are Conservatives, meaning that Mr Johnson’s party holds the majority.
Mr Johnson’s allies want his letter, which was drafted with his legal team at Peters & Peters, to be published in full alongside the findings so that his rebuttal is on the record.
The report is expected to conclude that he misled MPs by denying in the Commons that any Covid lockdown rules had been broken at Number 10 events.
There had been suggestions that finding a printer to produce the report was also a factor in the timing of its publication being pushed back.
A privileges committee spokesman said on Monday: “A letter enclosing further representations from Mr Johnson was received by the committee at 11.57pm last night. The committee is dealing with these and will report promptly.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, one Johnson supporter familiar with the letter said it was a detailed countering of points made by the report rather than any legal warnings.
The source said: “If they are going to publish the report, there should be something on the record from Boris saying what a load of baloney this is.”
The timing of two of the three by-elections triggered by the resignations of Mr Johnson and supportive Tory MPs Nigel Adams and Nadine Dorries will be announced on Wednesday.
Ms Dorries has not formally stood down, despite going public with news of her resignation last week. That means the Conservative Party cannot yet schedule the by-election in her seat.
The votes to decide who will follow Mr Johnson in Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Mr Adams in Selby and Ainsty are expected to take place in mid to late July.
Both constituencies have long been held by the Conservatives, meaning there will be a backlash against Rishi Sunak if they are lost on his watch.
There is continued speculation among supporters of Mr Johnson that a fourth by-election will be triggered by Alok Sharma, another pro-Johnson MP. He has not publicly ruled out stepping down before the next election.
While Mr Johnson’s letter has complicated the release of the report, it is not expected to delay it for long and publication this week is still expected.
The Telegraph understands that the Government is currently planning to table a motion on the report next week, though the exact wording of the move remains unclear. Conservative MPs will not be whipped to vote a particular way on the motion, meaning that they will not be ordered to protect Mr Johnson.
The developments come with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak locked in a war of words over which names Downing Street approved for his resignation honours list.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, accused Mr Johnson of throwing a “political tantrum”. Speaking at London Tech Week on Tuesday, he said: “It is very unusual to have it when they are in office and now we have got three by-elections caused by just political fall-outs.
“Often you have by-elections because someone sadly dies or is very ill or there is some finding against them. To have three by-elections which are essentially political tantrums is really unprecedented.”