Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused by the opposition Labour Party of “debasing the principles of public life” after the government on Friday released a revised outline of its ministerial code.
This renew The policy issued by the Cabinet Office said ministers found to be in breach of the rules should not be expected to resign “automatically”.
The amendment drew criticism from the opposition, including Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, who accused Johnson of “watering down” the rules to “protect his skin”. “This prime minister is belittling and demeaning the principles of public life before our eyes,” she added.
The move comes as Johnson faces scrutiny by the House of Commons Privileges Committee, a bipartisan group of MPs that will determine whether he lied to Parliament about the “Partygate” scandal.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s former adviser to the prime minister, said: “If any Conservative MP works under the impression that the prime minister might listen, learn or change, amend the ministerial code so he doesn’t resign if he breaks the rules. argue.”
Johnson’s premiership has had a rough week after senior civil servant Sue Grey delivered her report at a Westminster lockdown party, exposing Downing Street’s culture of lawlessness and alcoholism.
In light of the revelations, a handful of Conservative MPs have called for the Prime Minister to resign. Conservative MP Paul Holmes resigned as aide to Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, saying he was “shocked and outraged” by the findings. He criticized “the toxic culture that seems to have infiltrated No. 10”.
There will be two dangerous by-elections next month in Wakefield and the Conservative seats of Tiverton and Honeyton – the first in the former Labour ‘red wall’ stronghold and the second in the Tory ‘blue wall’ “- Johnson still faces political pressure.
His critics said the prime minister’s decision to sign a weakened ministerial code showed he was still prepared to challenge tradition, although he claimed he was “humbling” by the party-gate affair.
The revised code states that it is “disproportionate” to expect a breach of the rules “should automatically result in resignation or dismissal”.
“The sanctions the Prime Minister may decide to issue is at the Prime Minister’s discretion in specific cases, but may include requiring some form of public apology, remedial measures or the cancellation of ministerial wages for a period of time,” the paper said.
However, the updated version reiterated 2019 The code states that it is “of the utmost importance” that ministers provide “accurate and truthful information” to parliament and that if they fail to do so, they should submit their resignation to the prime minister.
Tim Durant, deputy director of the government think tank Institute, said the updated measures marked a “sensible approach.”
“If a breach of the code is found, the minister’s request to resign remains in this updated version,” he said. “However, what we have now is more nuance and explicit acknowledgement that there have been varying degrees of breaches of the code, so every possible sanction and approach, such as a public apology, can be applied.”
Several Conservative MPs have called for Johnson to step down, including Sir Stephen Hammond Bob NealDavid Symonds and John Barron after Gray’s findings were published.