Just days after the “Partygate” investigation report sharply criticized the British government, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has weakened the rules of conduct for his cabinet.
Government officials who break the “ministerial code” with ethical guidelines will no longer be expected to automatically resign or be fired, the government said in London on Friday.
It was “disproportionate” if they had to lose their jobs for “minor” offenses. Instead, the prime minister could order some sort of public apology or a temporary salary suspension, it said.
The “Partygate” investigation report blames the political leadership around Johnson for a party culture in Downing Street that tolerated illegal lockdown parties. Johnson had announced that he would take full responsibility, but he ruled out resigning.
A parliamentary committee will soon examine whether the prime minister lied to parliament about the scandal. According to the Ministerial Code, if a government official lies, they must resign or be fired.
In addition, Johnson blocked the possibility of an independent ethics adviser launching its own investigation into the prime minister. This still requires the approval of the head of government.
Johnson is said to have broken corona rules more and more during the pandemic, including celebrating several lockdown parties on Downing Street. In an investigative report by top official Sue Gray, he was accused of leadership failure and lack of judgment. She had demanded that management should take responsibility.