Palace of Westminster photographed from across the River Thames.

PMQs: Did Government ministers breach ministerial code?

In this week’s PMQs, Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, had a very focused approach of using the ministerial code to question whether the Prime Minister believed any members of Government had broken ministerial code.

When the PM’s independent ethics adviser resigned last week over the findings of a report which claimed ministerial code had been breached in relation to Priti Patel’s alleged bullying on civil servants during her time as Home Secretary, Mr Starmer questioned why Mrs Patel had not resigned or been fired. The Prime Minister defended his Home Secretary, stating that she had apologised for any alleged wrong doing that may have happened during the course of her job, and that decisions made by Alex Allan are entirely his own.

Keir Starmer also took aim at the consistent leaks of Government plans that have been given to journalists in relation to Covid-19 restrictions. The Prime Minister’s defence of this was more vague, simply deflecting by saying that the British public want support, not attacks. Mr Johnson also alluded to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Membership, saying Starmer’s attacks would hold more weight if they had dealt with the situation differently.

This sparked an intervention from the Speaker of the House, reminding the Prime Minister that it was Prime Minister’s Questions and not Leader of the Opposition Questions.

The Government was accused of being reckless with tax payer money, with 180 million pieces of PPE being unusable. Although the Prime Minister didn’t deny this claim, he reminded the House that 99% of PPE that the Government has bought has conformed to standards.

The Leader of the Opposition finished his questions this week by saying:

“It's a clean sweep for the Prime Minister. Bullying, harassment, leaking, conflicts of interest [on PPE]. It's one rule for the public and another for the Prime Minister and his friends.”

The remaining questions focused on the spending review, with most being calls for funding for X in constituency Y, or Members of the Government welcoming funding for X in constituency Y.

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