No 10 have succumbed to calls from Labour and other to publish Lord Geidt’s resignation letter in which he accuses Boris Johnson of risking a “mockery” of ministerial code in trade policy changes.
Downing Street have since said that they could scrap the ethics adviser role entirely instead of seeking a replacement for Geidt.
Labour’s shadow international trade secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, urged the letter’s release earlier today.
Labour MP Fleur Anderson asked an Urgent Question to Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis today, over whether will make a statement on the resignation. Ellis’s reply confirmed that No 10 would be publishing the letter.
In a statement posted to the government website on Wednesday, Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser tendered his resignation.
His statement read: “With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.”
However no exchange of letters was included in the announcement.
Geidt’s full resignation letter, released by Downing Street this morning, cites strong criticisms of the prime minister’s potential approach to new trade policies, reading:
“This week, however, I was tasked to offer a view about the Government’s intention to consider measures which risk a deliberate and purposeful breach of the Ministerial Code.
“This request has placed me in an impossible and odious position. My informal response on Monday was that you and any other minister should justify openly your position vis-a-vis the Code in such circumstances.
“However, the idea that a Prime Minister might to any degree be in the business of deliberately breaching his own Code is an affront.
“A deliberate breach, or even an intention to do so, would be to suspend the provisions of the Code to suit a political end.
“This would make a mockery not only of respect for the Code but licence the suspension of its provisions in governing the conduct of Her Majesty’s Ministers. I can have no part in this.”
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab claimed on today’s media round that Geidt’s “pretty rough grilling” by the House of Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee earlier this week may have influenced his decision to resign.
Speaking to MPs on Tuesday, Geidt refused to reject claims he may have considered resignation following Boris Johnson’s fine for breaching Covid rules.
An ex parliamentary commissioner for standards complained earlier this morning that the exchange of letters between Geidt and Boris Johnson regarding the former’s resignation have not been published.
Sir Philip Mawer, who served in the role during Gordon Brown’s premiership, noted that he was “hugely disappointed but not surprised” by Lord Geidt’s decision to quit but that his dissatisfaction in the post was “apparent for a while”, including in his recent annual report.
Sir Philip told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that if the letter and the prime minister’s reply are not published, then I think people will draw their own conclusions and it won’t be favourable to the prime minister.”
Labour MP Chris Bryant, chair of the Commons’ committee on standards, has also said Geidt’s resignation letter ought to be released, telling the Today programme: “I know categorically that he has written to the Prime Minister to explain why he has resigned and that letter should be published.
“Downing Street does this all the time, it sort of says ‘oh no, there isn’t any more to be seen’ and then subsequently two days later we discover there was an incriminating letter.
“So I hope the Cabinet Office will publish that letter today.”