Paddington Bear for ethics adviser after Geidt goes?

Wendy Chamberlain was being ironic last night when she said the only person who would now take on the job of ethic adviser to Boris Johnson’s government would be Paddington.

Last night, Lord Geidt’s resignation was a bit of a mystery. It was known that he was unhappy in his role because of the antics of the prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is his boss. Geidt had an uncomfortable session on Tuesday when he told the public administration and constitutional affairs committee it was reasonable to suggest the prime minister may have breached the ministerial code when he was fined during the Partygate scandal.

Today, we have the full correspondence between Lord Geidt and Boris Johnson. In his resignation letter, Geidt said he was being asked to judge on Johnson’s intention to risk a “purposeful and deliberate breach of the ministerial code” and he was not prepared to do that.

If Boris Johnson had ever thought he could divert attention from his own flummery onto the pressing problems facing the UK and the world, he has failed big time. Geidt’s resignation further diminishes Johnson’s credibility and moral authority, though it is hard to see how it can fall any further.

Geidt told Johnson he was left in an “impossible and odious position” and he told Mr Johnson that he could “have no part in the matter”.

We don’t know the full details of the request to Geidt, though in the modern tradition of colander government, it perhaps won’t be long before we learn everything in detail.

Geidt said:

“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.”

The response from Johnson said the dispute involves the Trade Remedies Authority. Politico suggests that this relates to tariffs on steel.

Accusing Johnson of not responding to the criticism in Sue Gray’s report about his lack of adherence to the Nolan Principles, particularly on leadership, Geidt said he had believed that it was possible to continue credibly as Independent Adviser, “albeit by a very small margin”. But, he continued:

“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.”

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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4 Comments

  • Kevin Hawkins 16th Jun '22 - 4:23pm

    An honourable, law-abiding, decent Prime Minister is perfectly capable of working out for themselves what is ethical behaviour and what is not. Why on earth does the PM need an Ethics Advisor?
    Oh, sorry, I’ve just remembered who currently occupies No.10 and have answered my own question.

  • Graham Jeffs 16th Jun '22 - 4:59pm

    Poor Paddington!!

  • Having an ‘Ethics Advisor’ at No.1o is like having a ‘clean up your dog’s mess’ sign; those who ‘clean up’ don’t need a sign and those who don’t just ignore it..

  • Nick Collins 17th Jun '22 - 1:39pm

    I think Johnson would rather give the job to Winnie The Pooh; he’d much prefer a bear of very little brain.

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