Boris Johnson should resign if he broke ministerial code, Scottish Tory leader says
Boris Johnson should resign if he is found to have broken the ministerial code over the financing of renovations of his Downing Street flat, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.
Douglas Ross said on Sunday that Johnson should “of course” quit if he is found to have breached the code. Three investigations are examining whether the prime minister properly declared any donations for the lavish refurbishments.
Ross’s comments have frustrated Downing Street advisers who wanted to play down sleaze allegations this weekend after a week of damaging disclosures about Johnson’s government in the run-up to Thursday’s elections.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Ross, who has previously called for Nicola Sturgeon to resign after she was found to have broken a code of conduct by MSPs, was asked if Johnson should stand down if found to be in breach of the ministerial code.
“Of course, I think people expect the highest standards of those in the highest office of the land,” he said. “That’s why I think people are looking at the investigations that are currently ongoing and waiting for the answers.”
The new standards adviser, Christopher Geidt, has been tasked with reviewing the controversy, in an investigation which will examine whether Johnson has breached the ministerial code that sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duties.
Johnson would be expected to show that his behaviour was consistent with the code, which makes clear there should be “no actual or perceived conflicts of interest”.
But Johnson has retained the power to frustrate any inquiry into his behaviour. He remains the “ultimate arbitrator” of the code and gets the final say on whether he broke the rules, a situation Labour says allows him to be his own judge and jury as the opposition calls for reform.
Lord Geit’s predecessor, Sir Alex Allan, resigned in November after Johnson overruled his inquiry, which found evidence that the home secretary Priti Patel had bullied staff.
Appearing on the same show after Ross, Dominic Raab defended Johnson but declined to say whether the prime minister should resign if he is found to have broken the law by the Electoral Commission.
“I think the right thing for me to do is respect the integrity of those reviews and let them run their course rather than commenting on what may or may not be found at the end of it,” the foreign secretary told Marr.
Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, is also running his own review into how the cabinet office and No 10 handled the funding of the No 11 flat.
Raab backed the Electoral Commission as some backbench Tories called for reform of the watchdog. “I trust it to look at these things in the right way,” he said.
Although earlier polls suggested the sleaze allegations were not significantly denting public support for the Tories, two new surveys gave evidence to the contrary before the local elections in England and votes for the parliaments in Scotland and Wales.
The Conservatives fell to a five-point lead over Labour, at 42% compared with 37%, according to the Opinium poll of more than 2,000 adults between Wednesday and Friday.
That put the Tories down two points and Labour up four compared with a week earlier, halving the Conservatives’ lead before the elections, in which 48 million people are eligible to vote.
In separate polling, Focaldata put Labour on 39%, one point behind the Tories, who previously had a healthy lead, according to the Sunday Times.
Johnson has denied breaking any laws over the refurbishment of his residence and insisted he had paid “personally” for the works.
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