Boris Johnson’s attempts to play diplomat on the two-day trip could be derailed by a crunch Commons vote into whether he misled Parliament over Partygate on Thursday
Boris Johnson will jet off to India today for long-delayed talks as he seeks to leave his Partygate woes behind him.
The crisis-hit Prime Minister is expected to visit Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, and New Delhi on the trip, which was originally planned for early 2021 but delayed due to the pandemic.
Mr Johnson’s attempts to play diplomat on the two-day trip could be derailed by a crunch Commons vote tomorrow, into whether to start a probe on whether he misled Parliament over Partygate. Tory MPs are set to be whipped to save him in his absence.
And he’ll have to endure a bruising Prime Minister’s Questions today before he boards the plane later.
It comes after Mr Johnson was repeatedly told to resign – including by one of his own MPs – in a heated Commons debate over his Partygate fine.
Labour leader Keir Starmer branded him “dishonest” and dismissed his “mealy-mouthed” apology for attending a surprise birthday gathering in the Cabinet Room in Downing Street in June 2020.
Mr Johnson will try to leave his critics behind with the trip to India, which Downing Street said would focus on trade and building economic partnerships between the two nations.
India has been reluctant to wholeheartedly condemn Vladimir Putin’s regime and the country has abstained on UN motions condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said yesterday: “India has not come as strongly as some of us would like to see about Ukraine.
“I’m sure that’s one of the things the Prime Minister will be talking to his counterpart President Modi about when he is there this week.”
The Prime Minister told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the UK would “continue to work with other countries to provide alternative options for defence procurement and energy for India to diversify supply chains away from Russia”.
But he said the UK “would not seek to lecture other democratically elected governments on what course of action was best for them”.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “When it comes to India and other democratically elected countries we think the best approach is to engage with them constructively, to try to broaden the alliance of democratic states against Russia.
“We do not think that pointing fingers or shouting from the sidelines are effective ways of engaging with democratically elected countries.”
It comes after Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle announced that he would allow a vote into whether the PM misled Parliament on Thursday – when Mr Johnson will be in India.
Labour is expected to make Thursday’s vote about whether to refer Mr Johnson to the Committee of Privileges, which rules on contempt of Parliament.
Mr Johnson could be suspended from the Commons if he is found to be in contempt.