Resigning is 'always on the agenda', says Boris Johnson's ethics chief Lord Geidt, following speculation he may quit

Resigning is 'always on the agenda', says Boris Johnson's ethics chief Lord Geidt, following speculation he may quit
Lord Geidt giving evidence in the House of Commons to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs CommitteeHouse of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images
  • Lord Geidt, the ministerial sleaze watchdog, has admitted he is an "asset of the Prime Minister".
  • The adviser on ministers' interests told MPs the possibility of resigning was "always on the agenda"

Boris Johnson's ethics chief has said resigning is "always on the agenda", following reports he was on the verge of quitting.

Lord Geidt, appointed by Johnson as the independent adviser on ministerial standards last April, has been on resignation watch over partygate for several weeks.

One source told The Times last month that he was "60/40" in favour of resigning over whether he breached the ministerial code and Johnson's failure to acknowledge this in his response.

Speaking to MPs Tuesday morning, Geidt spoke of a "frustration" at Johnson's failure to address how the partygate affair and fixed penalty notice could relate to a potential breach of the ministerial code, which Johnson addressed in a response to the report.

Geidt, a former private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, did not deny he had threatened to resign.


"I don't think there was ever a single direct proposition in my own mind," he said, adding resignation is "always on the agenda as an available remedy to a particular problem."

However Geidt said there were "difficulties that arose" after the resignation of his predecessor, Alex Allan, "because of the gap that opened up for a full five months after his departure."

He added: "On balance I believe it is right and proper that there should be an independent adviser in post to make sure that the regular business does not go unattended, as was the case in that five-month lacuna."

Asked about the independence of his role, Geidt admitted he was an "asset of the Prime Minister", but "trying my best to do work with what I've got".

Geidt also told MPs that he stood by the description in his annual report of having "repeatedly counselled" Johnson's political and civil service advisers to comment on the fixed penalty notice as regards the ministerial code.


The report said he had been "assured" this counsel was conveyed to the prime minister, however Johnson's response blamed a "failure of communication between our offices."

One source, given anonymity to speak about private discussions, told Insider that Geidt and Downing Street had discussions subsequent to the publication of the report and the letter, which left Geidt unhappy at the answers he received about the discrepancies between his claims and Johnson's.

Speaking with Insider after the session, Geidt declined to provide specifics on communications between himself and Downing Street, but noted that he is still in the role.

Downing Street deny any such discussions have occurred.

"Anyone who gets too close to the prime minister gets burned", a member of the committee, given anonymity to speak frankly about the session, told Insider.