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Boris Johnson has criticized changes to the Ministerial Code

Boris Johnson has been criticized for changing sanctions on ministers who are said to have breached the Ministerial Code

Boris Johnson has been accused of watering down the rules for ministers after it became clear they will not automatically lose their jobs if they break the ministerial code.

Ministers found to have broken the code will no longer automatically be expected to resign or face dismissal, according to a new government statement.

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It had previously expected ministers to leave if they were found to have broken the code.

The changes come just days after senior civil servant Sue Gray’s final report on lockdown parties at Downing Street prompted renewed calls for Mr Johnson to step down.

Mr Johnson faces an inquiry by the Commons Privileges Committee into whether he misled Parliament about lockdown parties in Whitehall.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for PMQs, his first since the Sue Gray report on ‘Partygate’ was published. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

What are the new rules?

The statement said it was “disproportionate” to expect a minister to lose his job for “minor” breaches of the code.

The prime minister could instead order “some form of public apology, remedial action or the suspension of the minister’s salary for a period of time.”

It said the revised terms of reference for the Prime Minister’s independent adviser on the Code, Lord Geidt, include an “enhanced procedure” allowing him to launch inquiries with the Prime Minister’s approval, although the ultimate decision rests with the Prime Minister.

“In order to reflect the prime minister’s accountability for the behavior of the executive branch, it is important that the prime minister retains a role in making decisions about investigations,” the statement said.

Mr Johnson has withdrawn by allowing his independent adviser on the Code, Lord Geidt, to launch his own inquiries into possible violations.

According to his revised terms of reference, there will be an “enhanced process” allowing him to launch investigations, but he will still need the Prime Minister’s approval before proceeding.

“In order to reflect the prime minister’s accountability for the behavior of the executive branch, it is important that the prime minister retains a role in making decisions about investigations,” the statement said.

What was said about the changes?

Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “Boris Johnson today rewrote his own foreword to the Ministerial Code, removing all references to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability. He lowers standards and demeans the principles of public life before our very eyes.”

While Labor MP Diane Abbott said: “Disgraceful move by Boris Johnson. He wants to change the ministerial code so that MPs no longer have to resign for violations. In no other job are you allowed to subsequently change rules that you have broken yourself.”

And Wendy Chamberlain, chief whip of the Liberal Democrats, said: “This is an appalling attempt by Boris Johnson to rig the rules to get himself out of a tight spot.

“The Prime Minister should not be allowed to decide his own punishment – without responsibility.

“It makes him a judge and jury in his own case.

“If the Privileges Committee finds that Boris Johnson has lied to Parliament, Conservative MPs will certainly have no choice but to sack him.”

https://www.nationalworld.com/news/uk/boris-johnson-criticism-changes-ministerial-code-removing-need-resign-over-breaches-3712213 Boris Johnson has criticized changes to the Ministerial Code

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