- Putting in an “odious position” on advice sought
- Frustrated after a series of scandals
- PM will consider how best to fulfill the role
LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) – Boris Johnson’s former ethics adviser said on Thursday he had resigned after being placed in an “odious position” by a government plan, yet another resignation to challenge the Prime Minister’s authority British minister.
Christopher Geidt, the second ethics adviser to quit under Johnson in two years, did not say what advice the prime minister had sought, but said he would have made fun of the so-called ministerial code, rules that set standards for the government.
This is the latest resignation from the Johnson administration, which is under pressure on several fronts.
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The Prime Minister has been criticized for his role in Johnson’s Downing Street residence and office parties when Britain was under strict lockdown measures to tackle COVID-19 as well as his deportation policy to Rwanda, and the EU has announced a new plan to deal with the post-Brexit trade is illegal.
“This request has placed me in an impossible and odious position,” Geidt said in his resignation letter to Johnson, released by the government on Thursday.
“I cannot participate in this,” said Geidt, who was an independent adviser on ministers’ interests.
Johnson, responding in a letter, said he was surprised by the resignation, adding that the issue Geidt needed to consider was a potential ruling on trade tariffs tied to a body called the Trade Remedies Authority.
He said the issue had previously enjoyed cross-party support, but may have conflicted with Britain’s obligations under the World Trade Organisation.
“My intention was to seek your opinion on the national interest in protecting a crucial industry, which is protected in other European countries and which would suffer material harm if we do not continue to apply such tariffs,” Johnson wrote.
“By seeking your advice before any decision was taken, I sought to ensure that we were acting correctly in accordance with the ministerial code.”
The Trade Remedies Authority, which investigates unfair trading practices and the possible remedies needed to prevent damage to UK industries, said in a statement that the case Johnson was referring to was one where “the government has full decision-making power”.
Geidt appeared to suggest earlier this week that he was frustrated with government pressure in his role, and a spokesman for the prime minister said Johnson would consider how best to fulfill that role.
Citing commercial sensitivity for not giving further details on the advice sought, the spokesperson said it was a “relatively unusual situation” regarding an industry. Read more
UK trade experts said it was most likely linked to steel tariffs.
The former ethics role holder resigned in 2020 to protest Johnson’s support for a minister who was found to have breached the code. Read more
The government initially released only a brief statement from Geidt when he announced his resignation on Wednesday, but came under pressure to reveal his reasons for leaving.
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Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Muvija M, Andrew MacAskill and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Bernadette Baum and Alison Williams
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