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Tories line up to demand Boris Johnson replace ethics chief who resigned in protest

Senior Conservatives who attacked Boris Johnson simply could not replace Lord Geidt. But Tory MPs this evening voted to block a Labor plan to replace the ethics chief if the role is vacant for two months

Senior Conservatives have urged the Prime Minister to appoint a new adviser to the Ministerial Code without delay
Senior Conservatives have urged the Prime Minister to appoint a new adviser to the Ministerial Code without delay

Boris Johnson is coming under mounting pressure from Tory MPs to urgently replace his ethics chief to show he takes the issue seriously.

Senior Conservatives have urged the Prime Minister to appoint a new adviser to the Ministerial Code without delay.

Lord Geidt resigned last week after nearly resigning over Partygate, saying he had been placed in an “impossible and despicable” position by the Prime Minister.

Labor wanted to give MPs the power to hold ministers accountable if he is not replaced quickly, claiming that under Mr Johnson “more rulebreaking is inevitable”.

But MPs failed to back their plans for a parliamentary committee to appoint an independent ethics adviser if the position is vacant for two months.

They voted 252 to 161 against the proposal, majority 91.

However, a number of senior Tories urged the government to appoint a replacement for Lord Geidt as soon as possible during the debate.







Lord Geidt, pictured, said his resignation was not over an obscure steel tariff issue
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Picture:

George Cracknell Wright/LNP)

Ex-Attorney General Sir Jeremy Wright told the House of Commons: “It shouldn’t be long before a new independent adviser is appointed.”

However, he said the individual should advise the prime minister directly and not some parliamentary committee.

Former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland said Lord Geidt’s successor should be “appointed as soon as possible”.

Senior Tory Jackie Doyle-Price suggested that ministers may not be “held to the highest possible standards” if the role has been vacant for a long time.

Simon Hoare, Chair of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, told the House of Commons: “This ethics issue is proving to be something of an Achilles’ heel for the government.”

Tory MP John Penrose, who quit as Mr Johnson’s anti-corruption czar, said he was “seriously concerned” the Prime Minister might not be able to replace Lord Geidt at all.

Downing Street has said it accepts the role as having a “vital” function by advising on the Ministers’ Code.







Tory MP John Penrose, who quit as Mr Johnson’s anti-corruption czar, said he was “seriously concerned” the Prime Minister might not be able to replace Lord Geidt at all
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Picture:

PA)

However, it said the prime minister was reviewing the position and conceded he could still abolish it.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis has repeatedly avoided committing to a quick replacement.

Eventually, however, he claimed: “The Prime Minister intends to appoint a new ethics adviser.

“We will announce in due course how this is going to be done, who it is and how it works.”

But one Tory MP said: “Before the vote of confidence, the Prime Minister promised my fellow Conservative MPs he would move and many of them believed him.

“If he decides not to replace Lord Geidt, it will show them how little his promises are worth.”

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner told MPs Lord Geidt did not resign over the steel tariffs as originally claimed.

“It wasn’t about steel at all, it was about this prime minister’s casual and constant disregard for the rules,” she said.







Angela Rayner told MPs that Lord Geidt did not resign over steel tariffs as originally claimed
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Picture:

REUTERS)

“Lord Geidt could take it no longer and I don’t blame him.

“For this Prime Minister, ethics is a district east of London – the truth is the Prime Minister is behaving as if it’s one rule for him and another for the rest of us.”

Ms Rayner said a “huge backlog of dirt and wrongdoing” had been built up in the five months it took the Prime Minister to appoint Lord Geidt to replace his previous ethics adviser, Sir Alex Allan.

She added: “This house should not tolerate repetition.

“We cannot take another five months without accountability at Downing Street, we cannot take another five minutes of it. Since Lord Geidt resigned, the Government has declined to confirm whether or how his ongoing investigation will continue.”

Mr Ellis also opposed Labour’s plan, warning that it was unsustainable for a committee led by opposition parties to choose an adviser to the prime minister.

This could create “disruptions, it would frankly lead to a deadlock, and it would be totally impractical and unconstitutional – it just wouldn’t work,” he claimed.

He added: “I’m in no way suggesting that the government doesn’t attach the utmost importance to the role, we do.

“And I’m in no way suggesting that something of that importance goes unaddressed, it won’t.

“All I’m suggesting is that we take some time to assess how best to fulfill this role.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tories-line-up-demand-boris-27294942 Tories line up to demand Boris Johnson replace ethics chief who resigned in protest

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