THE resignation of Boris Johson’s ethics adviser has piled more pressure on the Prime Minister to quit.

Lord Geidt’s shock decision appeared to blindside Number 10, which is reeling from the resignation of two ministerial interests advisers in three years.

It was reported that the ethics adviser had threatened to quit last month after the publication of the Sue Gray report into lockdown breaches unless Johnson issued a public explanation for his conduct.

Following an urgent question in Parliament on Thursday morning, the Government agreed to publish the document. 

Despite the resignation, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab insisted the UK Government maintains the highest moral standards.

When asked whether he believed the current Government always operates ethically, the Justice Secretary told Sky News: “Yes, I do. I think we’re doing our best for the country. I think you’ve seen that through the pandemic with the vaccine rollout, I think you’ve seen it with getting the economy back up and running. I think you’ve seen the moral leadership the Prime Minister has shown on Ukraine.

“Do we make mistakes? Look, it happens, we’re human, we’re fallible.

“But actually in relation to partygate, the Prime Minister held up his hands, he’s apologised, he’s overhauled Number 10.”

A little over 24 hours before his resignation, Geidt declined to deny that he had previously considered quitting over Johnson’s response to being fined by police over partygate.

He told the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that he had felt “frustration” and that the option of resignation was always “on the agenda”. “Resignation is one of the rather blunt but few tools available to the adviser,” the crossbench peer said. “I am glad that my frustrations were addressed in the way that they were.”

The National: Lord Geidt's resignation appeared to catch Number 10 by surprise Lord Geidt's resignation appeared to catch Number 10 by surprise

A senior source in No 10 told the PA news agency Johnson was “surprised” by the adviser’s resignation, adding: “This is a mystery to the PM.”

However, it is understood Geidt has set out his reasoning in a letter to the Prime Minister, which Number 10 is set to publish.

On Wednesday, Downing Street hinted towards a recent request for Geidt to advise on a “commercially sensitive matter” as being behind the resignation but refused to disclose what it was.

“This week, the independent adviser was asked to provide advice on a commercially sensitive matter in the national interest, which has previously had cross-party support. No decision had been taken pending that advice,” a Government spokeswoman said.

“Whilst we are disappointed, we thank Lord Geidt for his public service. We will appoint a new adviser in due course.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Ellis, responding to an urgent question from Labour, told MPs on Thursday: “The Prime Minister will be issuing a letter in relation to Lord Geidt’s announcement. Both Lord Geidt’s letter and the Prime Minister’s reply will be deposited in the House shortly.”

He added: “The Government is particularly disappointed, of course, that Lord Geidt has taken this decision as only very recently, as this House knows from the debate last week, significant changes were made to the role and status of the independent adviser on ministers’ interests.

“These changes represent the most substantial strengthening of the role of the independent adviser since its creation.”

Ellis refused to give further details about the “sensitive matter” Geidt had been asked to advise on.

Labour MP Fleur Anderson said: “Can the minister confirm whether this relates to a direct or indirect financial interest of the Prime Minister, a family member, a friend or a donor?”

But Ellis said on “sensitive matters” it was ” not obviously appropriate to dwell on those, as is clear”.

“The letters will speak for themselves,” he added.

READ MORE: Who is Lord Geidt, Boris Johnson's former adviser on ministerial interests who resigned?

The chair of the Commons Standards Committee, Labour MP Chris Bryant, led calls for the document to be released.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Downing Street does this all the time. It says there is no more to be seen and then subsequently we discover there was an incriminating letter.”

The Labour MP suggested that Geidt’s problem had been in that his advisory role was only “theoretically” an independent one. This has been at a time when questions had been raised about the funding of home improvements at the prime minister’s Downing Street flat, following the release of an exchange of letters with his standards adviser and also over breaches of lockdown rules.

Bryant told the programme: “Reading between the lines and between all the various different reports he has produced, he basically thinks that the Prime Minister has broken the ministerial code himself.”

The committee chair added: “He feels that because the only person who is the arbiter of the code is the prime minister that he does not feel able to say that.”

The National: Labour MP Christ Bryant is demanding answers from Number 10 Labour MP Christ Bryant is demanding answers from Number 10

Sir Philip Mawer, a former parliamentary commissioner for standards, said he is “hugely disappointed but not surprised” by the resignation as Geidt’s dissatisfaction in the role had been “apparent for a while”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the adviser’s frustration was “particularly apparent” in his recently published annual report in which “he refers to his frustration at what he describes as the low level of ambition in the changes in the role in the degree of independence, or the lack of it, which the Government has put forward”.

Mawer added: “All I can say is that, if the letter and the Prime Minister’s reply are not published, then I think people will draw their own conclusions and it won’t be favourable to the Prime Minister.”

When asked why a second ministerial interests adviser has resigned, Raab told Sky News: “First of all, he’d been engaged with the Prime Minister in Number 10 this week and discussing staying on for six months. My understanding was that he was committed to the role.

“I think he had a pretty rough grilling by MPs this week, I think sometimes we in the media and as politicians maybe underestimate how civil servants feel with that kind of scrutiny.

“And thirdly there was a particular issue, a commercially sensitive matter in the national interest, which he was asked to look at.

“I don’t know which aspect of this – there will be an update from Number 10 later.”

When asked why the Government has not published Geidt’s resignation letter, he said: “I don’t know whether there’s a full letter”, adding that the adviser will be replaced “as soon as possible”.

The deputy PM also confirmed No 10 will appoint a replacement ethics adviser, the third of Johnson’s reign.