Boris Johnson 'will be scared' of new ethics adviser, says journalist Peter Oborne

29 April 2021, 18:45 | Updated: 29 April 2021, 18:51

By Tim Dodd

Downing Street's new ministerial standards adviser will be good for Boris Johnson due to the "complete vacuum of ethics" in No 10, according to journalist Peter Oborne.

The political commentator told Eddie Mair that Lord Christopher Geidt is "more powerful than the Prime Minister in some ways".

It comes after the former private secretary to the Queen was appointed as the new independent adviser on ministers' interests.

His first job will be to investigate the refurbishment of Boris Johnson's Downing Street flat.

However, Lord Geidt's selection has been questioned by Labour after the ethics adviser's spokesman said the PM will remain the "ultimate arbiter" of whether the ministerial code has been broken.

But Mr Oborne said he believed the new adviser would help clear the "moral cesspit" inside No 10.

Peter Oborne (R) said Boris Johnson will be frightened of the new ethics adviser
Peter Oborne (R) said Boris Johnson will be frightened of the new ethics adviser. Picture: PA

He began by telling Eddie there has been "a complete vacuum of ethics in Downing Street since Johnson took over".

"The ministerial code doesn't exist anymore, it's just not enforced, which is really quite shocking and extraordinary.

"Ministers don't declare their interests, including, as we now know, the Prime Minister himself, which means that donors can give money to ministers and the Prime Minister and that not be announced - I mean it's completely unprecedented."

The journalist said Downing Street has "obviously felt forced to bring in someone serious" amid the saga surrounding the PM's flat, before accusing the people inside No 10 of being "kids who've never done anything real in their life".

Mr Oborne added: "They went to university, maybe a touch of journalism, that sort of student politician inside Downing Street - got no values, no experience of life."

By comparison, he said Lord Geidt is a "former soldier of great distinction and former diplomat. He knows how to handle tough people and he's tough himself".

"He went to Buckingham Palace as Private Secretary to the Queen which is a very honourable and important role, and so he really knows his way around - I'll tell you - Johnson will be frightened of him."