Boris Johnson’s former ethics adviser has accused the prime minister of considering a “deliberate and deliberate” violation of the ministerial code.
Lord Geidt dramatically resigned 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 placed in “an impossible and detestable position”.
The ministerial code is the set of rules and principles that determine the standards of conduct of ministers, including the prime minister.
“The idea that a prime minister is intentionally violating his own code to any degree is an insult,” Geidt said.
“An intentional violation, or even an intent to do so, would be to suspend the provisions of the code to achieve a political goal.”
Geidt said it would be a “mockery” from the government’s ethical and standard rules. “I can’t play a part in this,” he added.
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 to stay in post “by a very narrow margin” following the revelations about lockdown breaches in No. 10, but being asked for advice about a deliberate code violation was the last straw.
In his response, Johnson said he had asked Geidt for his advice on whether a policy decision in “the national interest in protecting a critical industry” would comply with the code.
“It would be in line with our national law, but could conflict with our obligations under the WTO,” Johnson said.
“When seeking your advice before making a decision, I wanted to make sure we were acting correctly.”
In his letter, the prime minister did not specify in which sector the government wanted to intervene.
Geidt is the second ministerial interests adviser to step down during the prime minister’s three-year term.
The first ethics adviser to Johnson to step down was Sir Alex Allan, who resigned in 2020 after the prime minister refused to accept his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had bullied officials.