Friday, March 31, 2023

Ministerial code in danger of ‘ridicule’, warns Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser

According to his own ethics advisor, Boris Johnson risks putting the ministerial code in place of “ridicule” over the Partygate scandal.

In a scathing public rebuke, Christopher Geidt said there were “legitimate” questions about whether Mr Johnson had violated the minister’s standards and threatened to step down if the PM said there was no case to answer. .

Labor said the row showed Mr Johnson’s “days are numbered” when he “tried to rig the rules and evade scrutiny”.

But the prime minister insisted he had not violated the code, and blamed a “failure of communication” for what Lord Geidt said, with his advice being repeatedly overseen.

The controversy comes as Mr Johnson put potential rebels on the Conservative backbench in a desperate bid to bolster his position ahead of a no-confidence motion led by him that several Tory lawmakers now expect to return to parliament next week.

Downing Street declined to confirm reports that the PM plans to relaunch in the final weeks of the parliamentary year, with Chancellor Sage on reforming insurance rules to release billions of pounds for infrastructure investment Contains a joint speech with eccentricity. But a source did not deny that he was telling backbench wavers: “Obviously he talks to lawmakers all the time.”

it comes as Wire Downing Street is reported to be preparing to go on an “economic war footing” to stabilize Mr Johnson’s premiership in the weeks following the Queen’s birth anniversary.

Plans being considered are said to include a return to regular Covid-style press briefings, but which will instead focus on the economy. The newspaper reported that the briefing will try to explain what is being done to reduce the cost of living crisis and provide the latest data.

Former Conservative leader William Hague said the prime minister was in “real trouble” and that the party was “moving rapidly” toward a leadership ballot, which Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Backbench 1922 committee, received 54 letters from MPs. will begin. ,

But Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries insisted on Thursday evening that Mr Johnson would win if Tory lawmakers submitted enough letters to win a trust vote.

He told Sky News: “It would take 180 MPs to get a no-confidence motion in the prime minister, which is never going to happen.”

Earlier, Mr Johnson’s former close aide, former cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom, went public with concerns over “unacceptable failures of leadership that cannot be tolerated”.

A 17th Tory MP – John Stevenson of Carlisle – also revealed he has submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM, declaring himself “deeply disappointed” in response to Mr Johnson’s No. doing.

He brought the number of lawmakers who publicly called for Johnson to go up to 28, while others debated privately to remove him.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s backbench critics said independent They were concerned that the prime minister would win a vote of confidence by securing the support of more than half of his lawmakers, and then trigger a potentially disastrous early general election to establish control over his corrupt party.

One said, “Parliamentary party is divided against one third, one third loyal and one third for usurper.” “If he gets less than the 63 percent that Theresa May got in 2018, he’ll be in real trouble, but I have no doubt he’ll try to stick to that.

“I think he might try to make an election because that would be the only way he could re-establish his authority.

“He has so much self-confidence and he thinks he has the country, but I think the country will say ‘no thanks’ and he will throw the Red Wall MPs under the bus.”

Ms. May’s former chief of staff Gavin Barwell said: “Right now, it looks like we’re headed for a vote of confidence at some point, which she may rarely win. That, I suspect, would be the worst outcome for the Conservative Party.”

Trade Minister George Freeman, a supporter of Mr Johnson, acknowledged the PM was “in the thick of it” and said he did not know whether he would survive the trust vote.

In a letter to constituents, Ms Leadsom – who worked closely with Mr Johnson to protect disgraced MP Owen Patterson last year – said the Gray Report exposed “unacceptable failures of leadership that cannot be tolerated”. and is the responsibility of the Pradhan. Minister”.

Although he did not call for Mr Johnson’s resignation, Leadsom said every Conservative “must now decide individually what is the right course of action that will restore confidence in our government”.

His intervention was seen as critical and a sign of discontent spreading beyond Mr Johnson’s “One Nation” critics and lawmakers, who were concerned about his influence on his slim majority.

an MP said independent That he knew of several MPs who wrote to Sir Graham without revealing it publicly, he said: “We should be closer to 54 now. I think Sir Graham is about to announce it is the end of Jubilee Weekend.” Will be waiting

Mr Brady himself remained silent, telling reporters that adding letters was “not my regular pastime”.

Lord Hague said the Gray Report burned touch-paper over a “slow fuse explosion” at lockdown-violating parties at No 10 last week.

Mr Johnson was wrong to think he was safe just because the report did not lead to a flood of urgent letters,” he said.

Lord Hague told Times Radio: “It’s not really the mood of the Conservative Party, which is very upset about the content of that report.”

“I think they’re moving, either next week or around the end of June, they’re headed to a ballot. It looks like that”.

Labor deputy leader Angela Renner said Mr Johnson had “been reduced to calling desperately around his rebel lawmakers offering baubles in a doomed attempt to save his own skin”.

She also said that Lord Geidt’s rebuke was “the latest sign of the rampant sledge in Downing Street”.

In the preface to his delayed annual report on ministerial standards, the ethics adviser said Mr Johnson had failed to heed the repeated advice to No. 10 that he should make a public statement on whether he had violated the ministerial code of conduct. has done.

Failure to do so could put him in the position of advising the prime minister to launch an investigation himself and then resign when Mr Johnson refused to do so – which would put the code in a “place of ridicule”, Lord Geidt said.

But Mr Johnson responded that Lord Geidt had not taken up the issue with him directly and blamed the situation on a “failure of communication between our offices”.

The PM insisted that he complied with the requirements of the code by correcting statements made in Parliament that were “made in good faith” but were not true. And he said he did not believe the £50 fixed fine notice received from police amounted to a breach of the Code.

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “This scathing criticism shows that even Boris Johnson’s own moral advisers no longer trust him to tell the truth. He is not fit to hold public office.”

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