‘Tinpot despot’ Boris Johnson faces the vote after watering down the rules for his own conduct
Labor will force a vote when Parliament returns on the Prime Minister’s decision to recast the Ministerial Code – allowing ministers to commit minor breaches without resigning
Credit: ANDREW PARSONS/No10/UNPIXS (EUROPE))
Labor will push for a vote on Boris Johnson’s decision to water down a code on ethics breaches – including his own.
The Prime Minister issued a new version of the Ministerial Code on Friday, allowing ministers to commit minor breaches without resigning.
The vow that ministers must “uphold the very highest standards of decency” has been removed from the revised edition.
And a foreword no longer explicitly mentions Nolan’s seven principles of public life – integrity, objectivity, accountability, transparency, honesty, and leadership in the public interest.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has dismissed calls from his ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, to investigate the behavior without the Prime Minister’s permission.
According to the peer’s revised terms of reference, there will be an “enhanced process” allowing him to launch investigations, but he will still need the Prime Minister’s approval before proceeding.
Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner accused the Prime Minister of acting like a “tin can despot” with the changes announced last week.
Leader Keir Starmer and his team plan to force a vote in an Opposition Day debate when Parliament returns from its week-long recess to celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee.
At its next Opposition Day debate, Labor will ask MPs to enshrine a commitment for ministers who commit serious breaches of the Ministerial Code to resign.
Labor aims to put Tories in an awkward position after a similar vote on the government’s attempt to tear up Commons standards rules – to prevent former Cabinet Secretary Owen Paterson from being suspended for lobbying – with allegations of the Filth against Mr Johnson ‘s government ended .
Ms Rayner said: “Boris Johnson is acting like a tinpot despot and trampling on every principle of public life.
“Many decent Conservative MPs are deeply uncomfortable with Johnson’s behavior and now have a chance to stop his sinister attempts to water down standards and integrity in our democracy.
“Gravity breaches of the Ministerial Code must lead to resignation, whether it is intentionally misleading Parliament, staff bullying, bribery or sexual assault.
“You just can’t trust this Prime Minister to uphold the standards of government while his behavior continues to sink into the gutter and he gives the green light to corruption.”
A government policy statement said it was “disproportionate” to expect ministers to resign or be sacked for “minor” violations of the code.
The update gives the prime minister the ability to order a lesser sanction, such as “a form of public apology, remedial action or the suspension of the minister’s salary for a period of time”.
The changes come days after senior civil servant Sue Gray’s final report on lockdown parties at Downing Street prompted renewed calls for Mr Johnson to step down.
The Tory leader is under investigation by the Commons Privileges Committee for misleading Parliament with his regular assurances that Covid rules were being followed during England’s 10th lockdown.
It comes after the Home Secretary was allowed to remain in office despite being found to have been bullying Home Office staff.
Mr Johnson stood by Priti Patel in a move that saw Lord Geidt’s predecessor, Sir Alex Allen, resign in November 2020.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tinpot-despot-boris-johnson-faces-27094714 'Tinpot despot' Boris Johnson faces the vote after watering down the rules for his own conduct