Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser accused him in a letter announcing his resignation of “a mockery” of the ministerial code.
Lord Geidt, who resigned on Wednesday after a lengthy dispute with the prime minister over partygate, said the government had planned a “deliberate and deliberate” code violation that put him in an “impossible and detestable position”.
The fellow accused Mr Johnson of failing to fully justify his actions over partygate, but revealed he eventually resigned over a row with the prime minister over trade policy, which was thought to have included tariffs on foreign steel imports to protect UK businesses. .
In response, Mr Johnson said he had sought Lord Geidt’s advice on “protecting a critical industry” by imposing tariffs that “could conflict with our obligations under the WTO [World Trade Organisation]†
He added that he “tried to ensure that we acted correctly in compliance with the ministerial code”, but was accused by his adviser of “suspension[ing] the provisions of the code to fit a political purpose”.
“This week […] I was instructed to express an opinion on the Government’s intention to consider measures involving a deliberate and deliberate breach of the Ministerial Code,” Lord Geidt wrote.
“This request has put me in an impossible and detestable position. My informal response on Monday was that you and any other minister in such circumstances must openly justify your position on the code.
“However, the idea that a prime minister would violate his own code to any degree is an insult.
“An intentional violation, or even an intent to do so, would be to suspend the provisions of the code to achieve a political goal.
“This would be a mockery not only of respect for the code, but also of licensing” [sic] the suspension of the provisions governing the conduct of Her Majesty’s Ministers. I can play no part in this.”