Ranil Jayawardena appointed minister at the Department of International Trade

5 May 2020, 21:46

Ranil Jayawardena
Ranil Jayawardena. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Government has named Ranil Jayawardena as a new minister at the Department of International Trade following Conor Burns's resignation.

Mr Jayawardena was appointed as a parliamentary under secretary of state after the minister resigned when an investigation found he threatened a company chairman.

Mr Burns resigned his post as Trade Minister after he was found to have made veiled threats whilst attempting to intervene in his father’s dispute over a loan.

Mr Jayawardena has been the Member of Parliament for North East Hampshire since May 2015 and the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party since 2020.

Mr Burns, the MP for Bournemouth West, resigned on Monday morning after the Parliamentary Standards Committee published a report which suggested he be suspended.

He said he was resigning with "deep regret" but he would continue to give Boris Johnson his "wholehearted support from the backbenchers."

The Commissioner found that Mr Burns acted in breach of rules when he used House-supplied stationary to write to the complainant, a member of the public who was connected with a company with which the MP’s father was in dispute over repayment of a loan.

In the letter he referred to parliamentary privilege, stating “my role in the public eye could well attract interest especially if I were to use parliamentary privilege to raise the case”.

The Commissioner said this was a breach of the rules, as the letter to the complainant was concerned solely with a personal financial situation and was not sent in support of his parliamentary activities.

She also concluded that Mr Burns “put personal interest before the public interest by suggesting that he would take advantage of his public office to pursue his father's financial dispute”.

Downing Street also announced that Nadine Dorries, who overcame coronavirus, had been promoted to minister of state at the Department of Health and Social Care.