Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Johnson accused of watering down rules for ministers following ‘partygate’

Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Boris Johnson departs 10 Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Boris Johnson has been accused of watering down the rules for ministers after it was made clear they will not automatically lose their jobs if they breach the Ministerial Code.

A Government policy statement said it was “disproportionate” to expect ministers to resign or face the sack for “minor” violations of the code’s provisions.

Instead it has been updated, giving the Prime Minister the option of ordering a lesser sanction such as “some form of public apology, remedial action or removal of ministerial salary for a period”.

It had previously expected that ministers should go if they were found to have breached the code.

The Prime Minister's independent adviser Lord Geidt
The Prime Minister’s independent adviser Lord Geidt (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

At the same time Mr Johnson has drawn backing from allowing his independent adviser on the code, Lord Geidt, to mount investigations into possible violations on his own initiative.

Under his revised terms of reference, there will be an “enhanced process” to enable him to initiate inquiries, but he will still require the Prime Minister’s consent before going ahead.

“Reflecting the Prime Minister’s accountability for the conduct of the executive, it is important that a role is retained for the Prime Minister in decisions about investigations,” the statement said.

The changes come just days after the final report by the senior civil servant Sue Gray into lockdown parties in Downing Street led to renewed calls for Mr Johnson to resign.

The Prime Minister is now facing an inquiry by the Commons Privileges Committee into whether he misled Parliament into what happened.

Labour said Mr Johnson had removed all references to “integrity, objectivity, accountability, transparency, honesty and leadership in the public interest” from his own foreword to the code to “save his own skin”.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “This Prime Minister is downgrading and debasing the principles of public life before our very eyes.

“In a week when Boris Johnson’s lies to Parliament about industrial rule-breaking at the heart of Government were finally exposed, he should be tendering his resignation but is instead watering down the rules to save his own skin.

“Once again, Boris Johnson has demonstrated he is not serious about his pledge to address the scandal and sleaze engulfing his Government or the frequent and flagrant breaches of standards and rule-breaking that have taken place on his watch.”

Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “This is an appalling attempt by Boris Johnson to rig the rules to get himself off the hook.

“The Prime Minister shouldn’t be allowed to decide on his own punishment – with zero accountability.

“This is making him judge and jury in his own case.

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