UK parliament can debate PM Johnson's comments over lockdown breach - speaker

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Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle arrives at the Service of Thanksgiving for Dame Vera Lynn at Westminster Abbey

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's House of Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he would allow the opposition Labour Party to put forward a motion for debate in parliament on Thursday around whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson misled lawmakers over breaching COVID-19 rules.

Hoyle said it was not for him to determine whether Johnson had committed a contempt in his statements to parliament over lockdown gatherings at his Downing Street residence and office.

"My role is to decide whether there is an arguable case to be examined," he said. "Therefore, (the leader of the opposition) may table a motion for debate on Thursday."

The motion will be published on Wednesday and is expected to ask lawmakers to decide whether to refer Johnson to a parliamentary committee to investigate whether he deliberately misled lawmakers in his responses to accusations of lawbreaking in Downing Street.

It is unlikely to pass because Johnson's Conservatives have a large majority in the House of Commons, so many of his own lawmakers would have to join the opposition in voting for such a probe and only a handful have publicly criticised him.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by William James)