Boris Johnson considering not replacing ethics adviser after Lord Geidt quits
Boris Johnson‘s former ethics adviser Christopher Geidt has said his resignation was prompted by the PM’s willingness to breach international law.
In a second letter to explain his shock decision to quit on Wednesday, Lord Geidt said that the details of the row over steel tariffs which finally provoked his departure were a “distraction” from his real motivation to leave his position.
He said that he walked out because he was unready to endorse the government’s openness to breaking its international obligations.
His comments suggest he may be concerned over Mr Johnson’s attempt to override the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way which will breach the Brexit treaty that he signed less than three years ago.
Meanwhile, the government has faced a backlash over reports it will not appoint a new ethics adviser after Lord Geidt’s resignation.
John Penrose, who quit as the anti-corruption tsar earlier this month over the Partygate scandal, said: “You can’t just pretend it doesn’t matter, and that there’s no job to be done.”
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Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 05:10
Outrage over PM’s plan to abolish Downing Street ethics monitor
Boris Johnson has triggered outrage in Westminster with plans to abolish the post of Downing Street ethics adviser, after Christopher Geidt quit in protest at being asked to endorse deliberate rule-breaking by the prime minister.
Lord Geidt – the second adviser to resign in less than two years during Mr Johnson’s premiership – said he was put in an “impossible and odious” position when asked to advise on a plan to maintain tariffs on Chinese steel in a way which would breach UK obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The PM’s official spokesperson confirmed that Mr Johnson plans to “take time” to consider whether to appoint a replacement for the former private secretary to the Queen, or to find a different way of fulfilling the function of scrutinising ministerial behaviour.
The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) issued a stern warning to the PM not to go ahead with plans to replace the high-profile adviser with an anonymous committee of officials to oversee the ministerial code of conduct.
Scrapping the adviser’s post would be “a backwards step” which would “risk further damage to public perceptions of standards”, said CSPL chair Lord Evans.
Tory MP Richard Graham – who is not usually among Mr Johnson’s public critics – said that any notion of axing the adviser’s post should be “dropped fairly fast”. Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said Mr Johnson had “debased standards and rigged the rules for far too long”.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 05:41
PM risked deliberate breach of ministerial code, says Lord Geidt
Lord Geidt in his resignation letter to the prime minister Boris Johnson said that he had been only credibly clinging onto the role of ministerial interests adviser “by a very small margin” over partygate.
He added he was forced to quit when he was tasked with offering a view on the Government’s “intention to consider measures which risk a deliberate and purposeful breach of the ministerial code”.
In the letter published on Thursday, Lord Geidt wrote: “This request has placed me in an impossible and odious position.”
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 05:51
PM considering withdrawal from human rights treaty, Downing Street confirms
Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson has confirmed the government is considering withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights, saying “all options are on the table” in the wake of Wednesday’s cancellation of a deportation flight to Rwanda.
The prime minister is facing fury from Tory backbenchers over the last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg which blocked Wednesday night’s flight, with many calling for the UK to pull out of the convention which it helped draw up in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Asked whether withdrawal from the convention was being considered, the spokesperson told reporters: “We keep all options on the table as part of our work to address the issues raised by the repeated and sometimes meritless claims that we see consistently with removal flights, while obviously making sure that we continue to protect the vulnerable.”
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 06:10
Johnson’s plan to overhaul NI protocol is ‘politically driven’, says Sefcovic
“I cannot resist the impression that the tabling of the bill is politically driven, but it’s not our role to comment on internal politics in the UK,” Mr Sefcovic told Sky News.
“Our doors for negotiations will always be open I’m ready to talk to all political leaders in Northern Ireland and to all stakeholders,” he added.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 06:10
NI protocol has undermined the Good Friday Agreement, says Truss
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has said that the Northern Ireland protocol and the impact of it has undermined the Good Friday Agreement.
“So we are seeing people in Northern Ireland are unable to access the same goods as people in Great Britain. We are seeing custom costs of trading goods across the Irish sea. We are seeing people unable to benefit from the same tax breaks as people in Great Britain,” she told Sky News.
“People in the Northern Ireland… are feeling they are less connected to Great Britain and they are not benefitting from being part of the United Kingdom. That is a problem we need to deal with, it has been going on now for 18 months.
“We have had 18 months of negotiations and we haven’t got anywhere. The European Union has said that they are willing to change the protocol, therefore we have to act to make sure we restore the primacy of the Good Friday Agreement,” she added.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 06:35
UK judges could block plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, Dominic Raab admits
UK judges could rule that deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, Dominic Raab has admitted.
Ministers have attacked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for preventing the first flight on Tuesday night, insisting they have the domestic legal powers they need to act.
But Mr Raab acknowledged a full high court judicial review in late July could thwart the policy after the government declined to pass fresh legislation to authorise it.
“Well, I don’t quite know what the courts are going to decide on the main hearing,” the deputy prime minister told LBC Radio.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 06:57
Tories say Harriet Harman should step down from No 10 parties inquiry
Tory MPs have urged Harriet Harman to step back from an inquiry into whether prime minister Boris Johnson misled parliament, after unearthing historic comments by her on the matter.
The veteran Labour MP was accused of prejudging the outcome of the investigation after it emerged in April she had posted that Mr Johnson appeared to have “misled the House of Commons”.
Ms Harman was put onto the parliamentary privileges committee earlier this week to replace Chris Bryant, who was recused after having called Mr Johnson a “proven liar” who “repeatedly lied to parliament”.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar17 June 2022 07:17
Farmers and food producers to lose almost £300m from Australia trade deal, MPs warn
Farmers and food producers need government help as they could lose up to £300m from Britain’s trade deal with Australia, MPs has said.
Trade experts believe the UK will only see a rise of 0.08 per cent of GDP by 2035 as a result of the agreement, while Australia stands to see an export boost six times as large.
Robert Goodwill, the committee’s Conservative chair, said the government must ensure the agricultural and food sectors are “no worse off” from the Australia agreement.
“The government must commit to helping the food and farming sector win back the £278m worth of lost growth it will experience because of this deal,” he said.
Rory Sullivan17 June 2022 07:30
No tax cuts before inflation tamed, says Gove
The government cannot do everything it wants to support the public with the cost-of-living crisis because of rising inflation, the communities secretary Michael Gove has said.
Inflation will have to be brought under control before tax cuts go ahead, he said.
The comments come after the Bank of England warned that inflation could exceed 11 per cent this year.
Speaking to The Times CEO Summit on Thursday, Mr Gove said: “When you are squeezing inflation out of the system, you will rely on the Bank of England and the government having the fiscal and the monetary policies which will inevitably mean we cannot do all the things that we would, in ideal circumstances, like to do in order to support people through a difficult period.”
Rory Sullivan17 June 2022 07:46