Boris Johnson suffered a fresh setback Wednesday as his ethics adviser quit in the wake of the Partygate saga.
Christopher Geidt — tasked with investigating whether ministers are abiding by the U.K.’s ministerial code — issued a terse statement Wednesday night saying: “With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.”
Although Geidt’s statement does not detail his reasons for exiting the role, it comes after the ethics adviser suggested Johnson may have breached the code when he was fined by police over a coronavirus lockdown-busting party in Downing Street.
The ministerial code says government ministers are expected to comply with the “overarching duty” to follow the law, and Geidt had urged Johnson earlier this month to explain how that tallied with the fine.
At the time Johnson argued he had “no intent to break the regulations” and was “fully accountable to parliament and the British people.” Johnson’s government was heavily criticized in an official report into the affair late last month.
Geidt has investigated and ruled on the prime minister’s behavior on multiple occasions, and he is the second person to quit the role under Johnson.
His predecessor left government in November 2020 after Johnson rejected his advice that Home Secretary Priti Patel had breached the ministerial code following an investigation into bullying claims.
The opposition Labour Party was quick to pounce on the latest setback for Johnson, who earlier this month faced down a Conservative vote on his leadership.
“The prime minister has now driven both of his own handpicked ethics advisers to resign in despair,” said Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner. “If even they can’t defend his conduct in office, how can anyone believe he is fit to govern?”
Speaking to a parliamentary committee on Tuesday, Geidt did not deny he had considered quitting over the saga, and described resignation as “one of the rather blunt but few tools available to the adviser. I am glad that my frustrations were addressed in the way that they were.”