Geidt resignation shows PM is far from secure despite confidence vote win

Katie Neame
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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“To lose one adviser on ministers’ interests may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.” That was the reaction of Tory MP and Boris Johnson critic William Wragg to the news yesterday that the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser Lord Geidt had resigned. Geidt’s predecessor Sir Alex Allan also chose to quit in 2020, having been overruled by Johnson over allegations of bullying made against Priti Patel. Also responding to Geidt’s announcement, Angela Rayner said: “The Prime Minister has now driven both of his own handpicked ethics advisers to resign in despair. If even they can’t defend his conduct in office, how can anyone believe he is fit to govern?” Labour’s deputy leader argued that it should instead have been Johnson who quit and again put pressure on Tory MPs to do the “right thing” and remove him.

Nick Thomas-Symonds was critical of No 10’s failure so far to make the reasons for Geidt’s decision public this morning, with the Shadow International Trade Secretary stressing that the government needs to be “open” about the incident. Challenged over the lack of transparency from the government, Dominic Raab admitted that there were “questions around the detail of the resignation” and confirmed that No 10 would provide an update later on today.

Geidt’s resignation follows his appearance in front of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee on Tuesday, during which he said it was “reasonable” to suggest that the Prime Minister may have breached the ministerial code when he was fined over ‘partygate’ (a breach of the code is usually considered a resignation offence). The grilling by MPs reportedly convinced Geidt that his position was untenable, with one source telling The Guardian Geidt was “sick of being lied to”.

His departure will complicate Johnson’s attempts to reset his leadership after his far-from-convincing confidence vote victory last week, as it brings partygate firmly back into the spotlight. Expect Labour to keep the pressure on No 10 to publish Geidt’s resignation letter in full and accuse the government of a cover-up if they fail to do so. As always, the power to oust the PM remains in the hands of Tory MPs. But poor government handling of the fallout from Geidt’s resignation will give the opposition a new means of shaming them into action. Don’t forget that 148 of Johnson’s own MPs voted against him last week – just 32 shy of the total needed to remove him.

Remember to check out our rolling lists of Constituency Labour Party (CLP) nominations for candidates vying for a place on the party’s governing body. CLP nominations for local party representative positions, BAMEdisabled membersyouthWelsh and local government reps to the national executive committee (NEC) continue to pour in. A total of 18 candidates have now made it on to the ballot for the local party rep positions and the candidates with the most nominations so far are: Ann Black (141), Johanna Baxter (138), Luke Akehurst (124), Gurinder Singh Josan (123) and Abdi Duale (115). Nominations close tomorrow at 12pm, so keep checking LabourList for updates.

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