Boris Johnson has written to his ethics chief rebuffing suggestions that he broke the ministerial code after the adviser threatened to quit over the ‘partygate’ scandal.
Lord Geidt, who has served as the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests since April 2021, said in his annual report on Tuesday there were “legitimate” questions over whether Johnson had breached ministerial standards.
The ministerial code was at risk of being in a place of “ridicule”, he added.
Geidt reportedly threatened to quit in a meeting with the prime minister on Tuesday morning unless he issued a public explanation for his actions, the Times reported.
But Downing Street published a letter rebuffing the suggestions last night, in which Johnson said “taking account of all the circumstances, I did not breach the code”.
Referring to his fine for attending the birthday party in the Cabinet room, the prime minister wrote “at the time I did not consider that the circumstances in which I received a fixed-penalty notice were contrary to the regulations”.
Sources told the Times that Geidt was “60/40” in favour of quitting despite the public explanation.
It comes as Johnson feels the heat from Conservative colleagues as nearly 50 MPs have gone public in their criticism, 30 of which have now called for a confidence vote in his leadership.
The deputy prime minister Dominic Raab played down claims that Johnson would face a leadership challenge, saying it was “Westminster talking to itself”.
Speaking to Times Radio today, Raab said: “I think [a confidence vote] is pretty far off, but my point is even then, in terms of the support for the PM, the overwhelming majority have not been public about these kind of criticisms.
“Although in fairness, I want to say I understand the frustrations and the concerns.”
He added that MPs being publicly vocal in their criticism of Boris Johnson “does not mean they have submitted a letter”.