Marr: What Lord Geidt thought he was doing advising Boris on ethics 'anyone's guess'

16 June 2022, 18:15 | Updated: 16 June 2022, 19:15

By Will Taylor

Andrew Marr says it is important to pay attention to Lord Geidt's resignation – the second ethic adviser to leave Boris Johnson's side.

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LBC's presenter said on Thursday's Tonight with Andrew Marr that Lord Geidt's resignation letter is thought to have given the Commons' privileges committee – which is investigating the PM – "lethal ammunition".

And it will "hack off" Buckingham Palace, Andrew said.

Speaking at the top of his show, Andrew said: "Sometimes in politics we have stories which are very important but just too complicated for their own good.

"At other times we get stories which are very important, but unfortunately irresistibly funny as well.

"Tonight's story is both. Lord Christopher Geidt has quit as Boris Johnson's ethics advisor. Lord Geidt is a very grand man, a kind of living embodiment of the British establishment.

"He doesn't walk, he shimmies. He was private secretary to the Queen. Appearing before MPs recently he looked a bit like an impeccably dressed and slightly offended boiled egg.

"What he thought he was doing advising Boris Johnson on ethics is anyone's guess. Lord Geidt, I suppose, probably doesn't Google.

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"Anyway, he resigned last night, because - he said in a letter released today - the prime minister had put him into an impossible and odious position.

"I don't think he meant that literally. What seems to have happened is that Mr Johnson was told by an independent body he should remove tariffs on some foreign steel imports but he chose to ignore them.

"What has that got to do with ethics you ask. Good question.

"Perhaps it was because Mr J intended to break a treaty or law. Perhaps various Tory donors were in the steel business and liked those taxes on their competitors, therefore conflict of interest? So Mr Johnson checks with Lord Geidt that whatever it was would be OK. Lord Geidt says no, sunshine, it would not.

"Mr Johnson tells him to go and boil his head. Lord Geidt feels this was impossible and odious position."

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Andrew went on" "I've spoken to one Tory peer who thinks the angry Geidt letter gives the Commons privileges committee lethal ammunition against the Prime Minister. It will certainly hack off Buckingham Palace, they certainly like Geidt, if that matters any more.

"Others I've spoken to think Boris Johnson, who has recently been busy rewriting the ministerial code, I assume to take out rules and put in jokes, will simply sail past this latest embarrassment.

"Lord Turnbull, the former cabinet secretary, told Newsnight "the charge sheet of Boris Johnson's conduct is so long, one more accusation isn't going to make a difference".

"Anyway, since this is the second ethics adviser Mr Johnson has managed to misplace, we need to pay Lord Geidt’s resignation proper attention."