Lord Geidt’s resignation letter is bad for the Government. In it, the Prime Minister’s now-former ethics advisor accuses him of risking a “deliberate and purposeful breach of the ministerial code” that had placed Geidt in an “impossible and odious position”.
Intriguingly, the peer writes that a “deliberate breach, or even an intention to do so would be to suspend the provisions of the code to suit a political end.” What could he be alluding to?
Geidt isn’t the Attorney General or the First Treasury Counsel. As his title suggests, he advises on ethics. So whatever he is referring to (something to do with the Trade Remedies Authorities, apparently) it isn’t a legal matter in the same way that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill was. And that reference to suiting “a political end” seems key.
Despite Number 10’s apparent surprise at Geidt’s resignation, the peer acknowledged that he was already on the verge of resignation, with his recent decision to stay on decided “by a very small margin.” This may simply have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Geidt concludes “I can have no part in this.” Crikey. Read the whole thing here.
Yet, as damaging as this is to Boris Johnson personally and the very idea of integrity at the top of government, it is not as bad as today’s announcement from the Bank of England. Not that interest rates will rise by 0.25 per cent to 1.25 per cent, but what else it said about the state of the UK economy.
The Bank now expects GDP in the second quarter of this year to fall by 0.3 per cent, having previously forecast growth of 0.1 per cent. It also anticipates inflation to rise to 11 per cent in October, reflecting higher household energy prices as Ofgem’s price cap rises.
The other thing to note is that, despite a fifth successive rate rise, sterling continues to lag behind other major currencies. For you and me, that means the pound in your swim shorts is worth a little less on the Côte d’Azur. But it also reveals a couple of separate but related concerns about the UK economy.
First, that the Bank of England will not act as quickly or tough on inflation as the US Federal Reserve (which yesterday increased rates by 0.75 per cent). And second, that this is partly reflective of our weak growth outlook, which makes the economy poorly positioned to withstand significant rate rises.
Interest rates are still historically low. In the 2000s, they bumped along at between 4 and 6 per cent, while in the 1970s and 1980s they frequently exceeded 10 and occasionally 15 per cent. The post-2008 world of ultra-low rates was never going to last forever. But my guess is central bankers would have preferred to see them rise on the back of healthy growth and moderate inflation, not this way.
Elsewhere in the paper, the Standard is launching its Plug It In campaign, to drive London’s electric transformation. There’s a rather striking homepage for it, while I’ve written a thing about why we’re doing it, including an ill-advised reference to Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Sadiq Khan and the motoring journalist Quentin Wilson lend their support in the comment pages.
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