Boris Johnson will give evidence to the parliamentary Partygate inquiry within days, after MPs in charge of the probe said it would have been “obvious” events he attended in No 10 breached Covid restrictions.
The former prime minister will appear before the Commons privileges committee next Wednesday at 2pm.
The session has been highly anticipated since the investigation into the scandal began last year.
In an interim report issued earlier this month, the cross-party committee said Mr Johnson may also have misled the Commons about lockdown parties in Downing Street on four occasions.
The committee also revealed that his own communications chief suggested there was a “great gaping hole” in the prime minister’s account of Partygate.
Mr Johnson could also see a notorious party spot at the bottom of the stairs leading up to his Downing Street flat.
And one No 10 official said a colleague was “worried about leaks of PM having a p***-up and to be fair I don’t think it’s unwarranted”.
The report also warned there was a “reluctance” from the government to provide the committee with unredacted evidence when Mr Johnson was still prime minister.
In response to the report Mr Johnson said the probe had uncovered “absolutely no evidence” of any contempt of parliament, the allegation MPs are investigating.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the evidence in the report was “pretty damning”.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner also called on Rishi Sunak to “stop propping up this disgraced PM and his legal defence fund – and make clear that if he is found to have repeatedly misled parliament his career is over”. Rishi Sunak has said Tory MPs will have the freedom to determine Mr Johnson’s fate with their conscience.
If the committee rules Mr Johnson deliberately misled the Commons they could recommend a suspension that ultimately leads to a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
Supporters of Mr Johnson have told the Independent that his hopes of a comeback as prime minister depend on him “getting through” the committee’s inquiry. Speaking to ITV News during a visit to San Diego at the weekend, Mr Sunak said he would not exert influence over Conservatives on the committee not to impose a large punishment.
“That wouldn’t be right,” Mr Sunak said.
And asked if he was concerned that a suspension of more than 10 days could trigger a by-election, Mr Sunak added: “This is a matter for Parliament, for the House. It’s not right for the government to get involved.”
The taxpayer is funding legal support worth at least £222,000 to Mr Johnson during the privileges committee investigation.
The committee said it has invited Mr Johnson to provide written evidence to the inquiry in advance of thesession. If it does receive a response, that will be published, it added.