Boris Johnson’s Ethics Chief Quit After PM Proposed ‘Deliberate’ Breach Of Rules

Boris Johnson’s former ethics adviser has accused the prime minister of considering a “deliberate and purposeful” breach of the ministerial code.

Lord Geidt dramatically quit on Wednesday evening but his letter of resignation was not published until late this morning.

In his letter to the prime minister, Geidt said he had been put in “an impossible and odious position”.

The ministerial code is the set of rules and principles which govern the standards of conduct of ministers, including the PM.

“The idea that a prime minister might to any degree be in the business of deliberately breaching his own code is an issue,” Geidt said.

“A deliberate breach, or even an intention to do so, would be to suspend the provisions of the code to suit a political end.”

Geidt said it would make a “mockery” of government ethics and standards rules. “I can have no part in this,” he added.

Lord Geidt's letter of resignation to the prime minister
Lord Geidt’s letter of resignation to the prime minister

His resignation comes just weeks after he said it was “reasonable” to believe Johnson had broken the ministerial code over partygate.

Geidt said he had decided “by a very small margin” to stay in post after the revelations about lockdown breaches in No.10, but being asked for advice on a deliberate breach of the code was the final straw.

Boris Johnson's reply to Lord Geidt
Boris Johnson’s reply to Lord Geidt

In his reply, Johnson said he had asked Geidt for his advice on whether a policy decision in “the national interest in protecting a crucial industry” would be in line with the code.

“It would be in line with our domestic law but might be seen to conflict with our obligations under the WTO,” Johnson said.

“In seeking your advice before any decision was taken, I was looking to ensure that we acted properly.”

In his letter the prime minister did not specify what industry the government was looking to intervene in.

Geidt is the second ministerial interests adviser to resign during the prime minister’s three years in office.

The first of Johnson’s ethics advisers to quit was Sir Alex Allan, who resigned in 2020 after the PM refused to accept his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had bullied civil servants.

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