Dominic Raab Says Government's Had "A Difficult Patch” After Ethics Adviser Quits
The deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has defended the government's actions after a second ethics adviser quit last night (Alamy)
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has complained that the government has “had a difficult patch” after Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser quit last night.
Raab said he believes the government always operates ethically and insisted ministers are "doing our best for the country".
The resignation of Lord Geidt dealt a fresh blow to Johnson's bid to move on from the so-called “partygate” row. He is the second ministerial interests adviser to resign while Johnson has been in office.
No reason was given for his shock departure, and the Cabinet Office is yet to publish the normal exchange of letters formalising the resignation.
Earlier this week Geidt told a committee of MPs that it is "reasonable" to suggest the PM broke the ministerial code after being fined by the police for attending a berthing in Downing Street during lockdown.
At 6.30pm on Wednesday evening a short statement appeared on the government website from Geidt. "With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as independent adviser on ministers' interests,” he wrote.
A day prior to his resignation Geidt addressed MPs on the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, where he admitted he had felt "frustration" in his role and said the option of resignation was always "on the agenda”.
He took over the role in April 2021 after his predecessor Sir Alex Allan quit over Johnson's refusal to accept his finding that Home Secretary Priti Patel had bullied civil servants.
In the wake of the latest resignation, Raab was unable to explain why the "committed" advisor had chosen to leave the role.
"First of all, he'd been engaged with the Prime Minister in Number 10 this week and discussing staying on for six months," he told Sky News.
"My understanding was that he was committed to the role.
"I think he had a pretty rough grilling by MPs this week, I think sometimes we in the media and as politicians maybe underestimate how civil servants feel with that kind of scrutiny.
"Thirdly there was a particular issue, a commercially sensitive matter in the national interest, which he was asked to look at.
"I don't know which aspect of this – there will be an update from Number 10 later."
Although the full reasons for Geidt’s resignation have not been made public, Downing Street hinted it may be to do with a recent request for him to advise on a "commercially sensitive matter”.
"This week, the independent adviser was asked to provide advice on a commercially sensitive matter in the national interest, which has previously had cross-party support. No decision had been taken pending that advice," a government spokesperson said last night.
"Whilst we are disappointed, we thank Lord Geidt for his public service. We will appoint a new adviser in due course.”
Johnson's anti-corruption champion, the Tory MP John Penrose, also resigned last week over partygate, but Raab defended the way the current administration operates.
"I think we're doing our best for the country,” he said.
“I think you've seen that through the pandemic with the vaccine rollout, I think you've seen it with getting the economy back up and running.
"I think you've seen the moral leadership the Prime Minister has shown on Ukraine.
"Do we make mistakes? Look, it happens, we're human, we're fallible.
"But actually in relation to partygate, the Prime Minister held up his hands, he's apologised, he's overhauled Number 10."
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