Boris’ nemesis favourite, Harriet Harman, to be new sleaze tsar

The Labour MP who oversaw the “partygate” inquiry into Boris Johnson appears to be gaining more Tory support in her bid to head up Parlia­­ment’s official sleaze watchdog.

Harriet Harman, a former Labour deputy leader, is standing to be chairwoman of the Commons Standards Committee, which rules on complaints about MPs.

She already leads the House of Commons Privileges Committee and oversaw the inquiry that found Mr Johnson “misled” Parliament over parties in Downing Street.

The former prime minister announced his resignation as an MP after learning that the Committee planned to recommend his suspension from the Commons for 90 days.

Mr Johnson’s supporters condemned that probe as a witch-hunt.

But some Tories are now supporting Ms Harman – nominated by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee which represents backbench Conservative MPs – in her bid for the new role.

She faces comp­etition from backbencher Stella Creasy, 46, who has the backing of former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith.

The winner will be chosen in a vote on October 18.

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Supporters of Mr Johnson were unhappy with the prospect of Ms Harman, 73, taking on the role but believe she has a good chance of winning. One said: “She’s a controversial figure because she condem­­ned Boris before the inquiry even got going. If that was a magistrate on the bench behaving that way they would be struck off.”

Another Boris-backing MP said: “People will be unhappy but there are parts of our party who didn’t like Boris anyway. The opposition have been very clever. They have planned this for a long time.”

But Conservative Marco Longhi, who was also critical of Ms Harman at the time, said: “We want to draw a line under it and move on.

“People can take their own view as to how Harriet conducted herself. I was one of those who was not happy, and I believed justifiably so.

“But my view is that MPs can form their own views and decide who to choose as chair.”

The Standards Committee chairman will be chosen in a vote of all MPs. But under Com­­mons rules only Labour politicians were allowed to apply because they will be replacing the party’s Sir Chris Bryant, who has taken up a new role as a shadow ­culture minister.

Politicians recently investigated by the Standards Committee include Tory Christopher Pincher, who the committee ruled guilty of “an abuse of power” after finding he drunkenly “groped two individuals” at a club in London.

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