Lord Wolfson resigns as justice minister over PM’s conduct and his approach to rule of law
David Wolfson has resigned as a justice minister saying he can no longer serve in the government because of its disregard for the rule of law. In his resignation letter Lord Wolfson, a distinguished lawyer who joined the government in 2020, said he was shocked not just by the extent of law breaking at No 10, but by the “official response” to it. He said:
I regret that recent disclosures lead to the inevitable conclusion that there was repeated rule breaking, and breaches of the criminal law, in Downing Street. I have again, with considerable regret – come to the conclusion that the scale, context and nature of those breaches mean that it would be inconsistent with the rule of law for that conduct to pass with constitutional impunity, especially when many in society complied with the rules at great personal cost, and others were fined or prosecuted for similar, and sometimes apparently more trivial, offences. It is not just a question of what happened in Downing Street, or your own conduct. It is also, and perhaps more so, the official response to what took place. As we obviously do not share that view of these matters, I must ask you to accept my resignation.
Here is his letter.
My colleague Nadeem Badshah is taking over now.
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Ruth Davidson campaigns alongside Douglas Ross – as they disagree about whether PM should resign
Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader, has renewed her calls for Boris Johnson to quit over the Partygate scandal as she accused him of “traducing” the office of prime minister.
Now a Tory peer, she said the prime minister had “made a mockery” of the British public’s sacrifices during the pandemic, opening up a split with Douglas Ross, her close ally and successor as Scottish Conservative leader.
Ross was the first Tory MP to publicly urge Johnson to quit in January but has since withdrawn his no confidence letter to the 1922 Committee, arguing it would boost Vladimir Putin if the British prime minister was forced out of office during the war in Ukraine.
Speaking as the pair campaigned together in Edinburgh before May’s local council elections, Ross hinted his support for the prime minister was temporary and conditional, but refused to discuss what action he might take in future.
A series of Scottish opinion polls this year uniformly put the Tories third behind Labour for the first time in five years, threatening to end the Tories’ series of strong Scottish election results.
Opposition parties believe the Partygate scandal has significantly dented the Conservative’s popular support; both Labour and the Liberal Democrats claim they are picking up votes across Scotland.
If true, that implies Davidson’s decision to publicly disagree with her close ally’s stance on the prime minister has tactical value for the Tories, by signalling to disillusioned voters the Conservatives remain unhappy and critical of Johnson’s conduct.
Downplaying the polls, Ross said that if Johnson resigned that would “create a void, would create instability … Allies around the world would know he’s about to leave. And the most important person is all of this – Vladimir Putin – would know he’s about to leave and that instability would undermine everything the west is trying to do to help President Zelenskiy and the people of Ukraine.”
Davidson said that if Johnson was sincere about wanting to uphold the law over Ukraine, he should start with his own conduct. She said:
I don’t think the prime minister’s apology last night [over being fined] was anything other than contrite and a meaningful and I’m sure he is very sorry for what’s happened but I believe that the prime minister should lead by example.
I believe that the office of the prime minister is traduced when you’ve got somebody that breaks the laws that they himself have brought in and I completely understand that there are really big geopolitics happening. Right now. There are big international issues. But I still believe that when it comes to supporting a country fighting for freedom and democracy, you have to uphold your own rules. You have to.
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