Geidt says he resigned for ‘deliberate violations’ of international law

Boris Johnson’s former ethics adviser clarified he quit this week over ‘deliberate breaches’ of international law by the UK government, rather than just the narrow issue of steel tariffs – as the suggested the Prime Minister.

“The focus on the steel tariff issue is a distraction,” Lord Christopher Geidt wrote in a letter to MPs. It was “simply an example of what could still constitute deliberate breaches by the UK of its obligations under international law”.

He also pointed to “the government’s widely publicized openness” to such violations of the law.

Geidt previously gave an opaque explanation for his resignation when he wrote to Johnson on Wednesday.

In the resignation letter, he said his patience had been worn down by the Downing Street ‘partygate’ scandal, then made a vague reference to being asked to approve ‘a willful and willful breach of the ministerial code “.

Johnson wrote in response that his adviser resigned after being asked his opinion on a bid to protect a crucial industry – steel – where the government intended to impose tariffs on imports . The Prime Minister said this could come into conflict with the UK’s obligations under World Trade Organization rules.

But in Geidt’s new letter to MPs on Friday, he said he had been unwilling to give Johnson early cover when the prime minister was planning to breach international law. He gave no other examples, but the UK has been accused of repeatedly breaking international law in recent months, including over its intention to tear up parts of its 2020 Brexit deal. with the EU.

The former ethics adviser said explicit references to international law were removed from the departmental code in 2015. But he said he still could not be party to advice on any potential breaches of the law. “It is still widely accepted that a violation of international law would, in turn, represent a prima facie violation of the Ministerial Code.”

Johnson’s team argues Geidt quit because he was out of breath after media criticism and grilling from MPs earlier this week.

But Wendy Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrats’ chief whip, said: “This letter confirms what we already knew. Lord Geidt quit because he was tired of being asked to cover up Boris Johnson’s breaches of the law.