More than 10 senior political figures have resigned since allegations of parties at Downing Street first emerged
Lord Geidt has resigned as the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser. He’s the second person in the post to quit in the last 18 months. His predecessor, Alex Allan resigned in 2020 after Boris Johnson overruled him on the report into Priti Patel’s bullying allegations.
Lord Geidt initially didn’t clarify publicly why he left the post. He’s simply said, “With regret, I feel that it is right that I am resigning from my post as Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.” His resignation letter was subsequently published and suggests that his decision related to potential government policy on international trade.
However, his resignation comes as the government remains rocked by the scandal of lockdown parties in Downing Street, and follows Lord Geidt’s own comments about the fixed penalty notice Johnson received. Lord Geidt said that an “ordinary man or woman” might conclude that it is “reasonable to say that perhaps a fixed-penalty notice and the prime minister paying for it may have constituted not meeting the overarching duty of the ministerial code of complying with the law”.
Lord Geidt is one of many people whose careers have been cut short, or who have been forced to resign since the revelations around ‘partygate’ were first aired. Meanwhile Johnson remains in office as Prime Minister.
More than 10 people in senior political roles have resigned from their positions in the wake of partygate. Here are the key ones:
In December last year, ITV News published a video of a practice press conference in Downing Street that took place in December 2020. The footage showed the then Downing Street Press Secretary Allegra Stratton making jokes about a Christmas party that took place in Number 10, while the country was still in lockdown.
This video was the catalyst that led to months of investigation from both the Metropolitan Police and the civil servant Sue Gray. It ultimately also led to Stratton’s resignation as spokesperson for the COP26 climate summit.
Shaun Bailey was the Conservative Party candidate in the 2021 London Mayoral election. At the end of last year, photos emerged of Bailey attending a Christmas party in Conservative Party headquarters with his campaign staff, again in December 2020.
In light of the scandal, Bailey would end up resigning as chair of two London Assembly committees.
The first frontbench resignation came from Angela Richardson. Richardson served as parliamentary private secretary to Michael Gove.
Richardson resigned on 31 January 2022, expressing “deep disappointment” at Johnson’s handling of the partygate scandal, and said his excuses would “ring hollow” with nurses who worked through the Covid-19 pandemic. Her resignation came after the update Sue Gray released on her investigation into the parties.
Munira Mirza was one of Boris Johnson’s longest serving aides. She worked for Johnson for eight years when he was Mayor of London, and re-joined his team when he entered Number 10.
Mirza resigned on 3 February 2022. She quit following false allegations Johnson made against Keir Starmer. Johnson had claimed Starmer failed to prosecute Jimmy Saville when he was director of public prosecutions. Johnson made the allegations during a House of Commons debate on partygate and the Sue Gray investigation.
Mere hours after Mirza’s resignation, Jack Doyle also left his post in Downing Street. Doyle was director of communications at Number 10.
Doyle was reported to have told staff it was always his intention to step down after holding the post for two years. But according to reports, Doyle had previously offered Johnson his resignation over the Downing Street parties, which the prime minister initially refused. At the time of his resignation, Doyle had been facing repeated allegations that he was among the staff who had attended parties in Downing Street.
Dan Rosenfield and Martin Reynolds
Two other senior advisers resigned on 3 February – Dan Rosenfield and Martin Reynolds. Rosenfield was chief of staff for the prime minister and Reynolds was the prime minister’s principal private secretary.
The final resignation in February’s mass exodus was Elena Narozanski – a special advisor to Boris Johnson on women and equalities. She handed in her notice on 4 February – just a day after four other Downing Street aides stepped down.
On 12 April 2022, Boris Johnson received a fixed term penalty notice for his attendance at one of the Downing Street parties. Following the fine, junior justice minister Lord Wolfson resigned from his post.
Wolfson’s resignation letter said that he concluded “there was repeated rule-breaking, and breaches of the criminal law, in Downing Street”, and that “it would be inconsistent with the rule of law for that conduct to pass with constitutional impunity”.
Sue Gray’s full report was published on 25 May 2022. Two days later, Paul Holmes resigned from his position as a parliamentary private secretary at the Home Office.
Holmes said that the partygate scandal had caused a “deep mistrust in both the government and the Conservative Party”, and said there was a “toxic culture” at Number 10.
A week later, the fallout of the Sue Gray report was still being felt. On 5 June 2022, John Penrose resigned as the prime minister’s anti-corruption champion.
Penrose’s resignation letter claimed, “the only fair conclusion to draw from the Sue Gray Report is that you have breached a fundamental principle of the Ministerial code – a clear resigning matter”.
Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward
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