Dominic Raab says he doesn’t know why Lord Geidt resigned
Boris Johnson may not replace his ethics adviser after Lord Geidt dramatically quit saying the PM put him in an “impossible and odious position” by considering taking action that was a deliberate breach of his own ministerial code.
In a resignation letter – published in full on Thursday morning after No 10 came under pressure when it initially released only a short statement – the former adviser said he had clung on to his role “by a very small margin” over the Partygate scandal.
The ministerial interests adviser said he was forced to quit when he was asked to offer a view on the government’s “intention to consider measures which risk a deliberate and purposeful breach of the ministerial code”.
The prime minister’s response indicated that the issue related to advice on the Trade Remedies Authority.
Lord Geidt said the idea that the prime minister “might to any degree be in the business of deliberately breaching his own code is an issue”.
Judges could block Rwanda deportations, Raab admits
UK judges could rule that deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda is unlawful, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has admitted – as he refused to say any flights will take off this year. Rob Merrick reports:
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 17:30
UK ‘very concerned’ about Putin critic and urges his release
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says she is “very concerned” about the whereabouts of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and has urged Russia to release him after reports that he was moved to a notorious high-security prison.
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 17:00
We can’t intervene in rail strike talks, says No 10
Downing Street insisted the Government was not “standing by” while rail strikes loomed.
“I wouldn’t accept that: ministers remain close to the situation and will remain close to the negotiations and discussions,” a No 10 spokesman said.
“Industry is offering daily talks with the unions and that’s what we want the unions to engage with and get back round the table.”
But the spokesman said ministers could not intervene in the negotiations.
“But what you have seen is us consistently call on the unions to call off the strikes, given the impact it’s going to have on people being able to get to work, kids being able to get to school – some of which will be doing exams – and we think that they will be damaging for the railways.
“As during the pandemic, it obviously remains sensitive for public and private-sector organizations to offer flexible working arrangements for some jobs,” the spokesman said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned the strikes will “endanger the jobs of thousands of workers.”
He also said the Government plans to introduce legislation to enable the use of agency workers on the railways during industrial action “if the strike drags on”. Vital changes were needed, he said.
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 16:42
Ministers accept Covid report recommendations
The Government has partially accepted most of the recommendations made in a damning report that highlighted serious errors and delays in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A study by the Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee had previously said the UK’s pandemic preparation was far too focused on flu, and delays in enforcing the first lockdown cost lives.
The wide-ranging report made 38 recommendations, most of which the Government has agreed to take on board in some form.
Ministers partially accepted the report’s advice to enforce measures such as lockdowns “on a precautionary basis” in future pandemics, rather than when scientific evidence is fully gathered and conclusive.
They accepted this recommendation with the caveat that “decisions on where the balance of public interest lies” should remain with ministers from case to case.
The Government also accepted advice for it to establish a volunteer reserve database so that people who have been vetted can be rapidly deployed in an emergency, and that those responsible for future test and trace programs should establish processes to rapidly learn from errors.
The Government also rejected several recommendations on the basis that they are already in place – including advice for the Armed Forces to have a more central role in responding to pandemics.
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 16:25
‘Rich and powerful should not be able to avoid MPs’ scrutiny’
Witnesses should not be able to avoid giving evidence at inquiries after “an increasing number of rich and powerful” people have done so in recent years, MPs have said.
The Committee of Privileges has published a report recommending legislation which would ensure Parliament can compel witnesses to turn up:
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 16:00
Sketch: Who among us is stupid enough to be Boris Johnson’s next ethics adviser?
Agreeing to be Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser is an act of stupidity that can be rivaled only by agreeing to be a vegan chef to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, writes Tom Peck:
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 15:25
PM may not replace ethics adviser after second quits in two years
Boris Johnson is considering abolishing the role of independent ethics adviser, after the second dramatic resignation from the position in Downing Street in less than two years, writes Andrew Woodcock:
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 14:55
Dispute ‘not linked to PM’s own finances’
Downing Street insisted the dispute was not linked to the financial interests of Boris Johnson or any minister.
Asked whether the Prime Minister had requested advice related to his own finances that might be tangentially connected to the trade dispute, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No… or any other minister.”
Asked whether it was linked to the Conservative Party’s finances, the spokesman said: “Not that I am aware of. I have seen speculation to that end, but that’s certainly not my understanding of it.”
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 14:21
No ethics left in Downing Street, says Labor deputy leader
Labor demanded Boris Johnson appoint a new watchdog to replace Lord Geidt as ministerial interests adviser.
Deputy party leader Angela Rayner said: “This Prime Minister has, in his own adviser’s words, made a mockery of the Ministerial Code. He has now followed both his predecessor and the anti-corruption tsar out of the door in disgust.
“There are now no ethics left in this Downing Street regime propped up in office by a Conservative Party mired in sleaze and totally unable to tackle the cost-of-living crisis facing the British people.
“The Government must not only appoint a new watchdog but back Labour’s plan to restore standards. This Prime Minister has debased standards and rigged the rules for far too long. It is time for the Conservatives to do the right thing and remove him from office.”
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 13:45
Johnson considering not replacing ethics adviser
Boris Johnson is considering whether to replace Lord Geidt as ministerial interests adviser as he reviews the role, Downing Street says.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the function of the role was vitally important.
But asked whether a new adviser was being sought, the spokesman noted a number of issues raised by Lord Geidt and said the Prime Minister wanted to “carefully consider those and reflect on them before making a decision on how best to fulfill that commitment about ensuring rigorous oversight and scrutiny of ministerial interests”.
Pressed on whether Lord Geidt would necessarily be replaced, the spokesman said: “We haven’t made a final decision on how best to carry out that function, whether it relates to a specific individual or not.
“He will carefully consider that before setting out the next steps.”
He suggested there was no plan to wait for a new adviser to be in place to go ahead with the controversial plan Lord Geidt quit over, saying: “I don’t believe that’s the intention.”
Jane Dalton16 June 2022 13:23