Lord Geidt says he quit over ‘important issue of principle’

Lord Geidt said he had been placed in an 'impossible and odious position'

Published

Lord Geidt has said he quit the post of ethics adviser to Boris Johnson on “an important issue of principle”.

The former ethics adviser to Boris Johnson’s said the “cautious language” in his letter of resignation may have led to the conclusion he was standing down over “some narrow technical consideration of steel tariff”.

Lord Geidt has said he quit the post of ethics adviser to Boris Johnson on “an important issue of principle”.
Lord Geidt has said he quit the post of ethics adviser to Boris Johnson on “an important issue of principle”.

However he said this was a “distraction” and that his real concern was over the Government’s “widely publicised openness” to breaking international law.

“I could not be a party to advising on any potential law-breaking,” he said in the letter obtained by Sky News.

Lord Geidt said he had been placed in an “impossible and odious position” after he was asked to advise on measures which risked “a deliberate and purposeful breach of the Ministerial Code” in his initial resignation letter– thought to refer to a dispute over tariffs on imported steel.

The explanation caused confusion at Westminster where, when the news of his resignation broke on Wednesday, it had been assumed he could no longer defend the Prime Minister over breaches of lockdown regulations in Downing Street and Whitehall.

However, writing to William Wragg, the chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Lord Geidt pointed to comments by the former cabinet secretary Lord Butler, who said the real issue was that he was being asked to give “advanced cover” to the Prime Minister for breaking international law.

“This represents my position precisely. Emphasis on the steel tariffs question is a distraction,” Lord Geidt said.

“It was simply one example of what might yet constitute deliberate breaches by the the United Kingdom of its obligations under international law, given the Government’s widely publicised openness to this.”