THE UK Government has entered an era of “ministerial irresponsibility” triggered by the chaos of the Tories, a new paper has argued.

The analysis has examined the challenging and breaking of rules around constitutional conventions which characterised the premierships of Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Author Michael Gordon, professor of constitutional law at the University of Liverpool,  warned there is a “risk of complacency” in thinking the turmoil is put down to individual political circumstances and will go back to “normal”.

He said there was the possibility you “can't put the genie back in the bottle” and highlighted a need to ensure ministers take rules more seriously.

The paper, which will be published in the Public Law journal in July, argued that during May’s time as prime minister – which was dominated by the divisiveness of Brexit – the defining theme was the challenge posed to “collective responsibility”.

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It pointed to the historic number of resignations from government - with 41 in just 36 months, compared to 46 in 13 years of New Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and 16 during the six years David Cameron was in Downing Street.

Meanwhile, Johnson was brought down by a crisis of “individual responsibility”, the paper argued, particularly in relation to his own personal conduct with scandals such as partygate.

Gordon said: “It seems to me - particularly under Johnson - it felt like people were trying to rewrite the May years a little bit and kind of say, 'well, at least she was a kind of dignified sober figure' - which is true to some extent in terms of, like, political style.

“But underpinning, the two of them are so connected. Because Johnson is in lots of ways a reaction to May - like electing a leader of his style is a reaction to the fact that her government didn't succeed in any of its objectives in relation to Brexit.

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“So that genuinely disdaining of rules and conventions and almost making a virtue out of it seems to me to be a reaction from the kind of fact that May's government seems in some ways inhibited by all of these different constraints through the Brexit period and couldn't get anything done.

“The Johnson response to that is then, 'well, we're just going to ignore all the rules and conventions and then at least we'll get something done'.

“So they seem different in lots of ways, but I think they have to be understood in connection to each other as well.”

The paper states the "chaotic rise and fall" of Liz Truss, and the "volatile and frail government" led by Rishi Sunak, suggests the "UK’s era of ministerial irresponsibility did not end with Boris Johnson".

Gordon said one response to the analysis had been to suggest that it had been an “exceptional period” with Brexit and the pandemic which would be followed by a return to “normal” again.

He said: ”It's obviously hard to know if that's true or not. But I think what's interesting is that Rishi Sunak very clearly tried to reset in that way - one of his early quotes was about “integrity, professionalism and accountability” is going to be the aim of his government.

“That doesn’t seem to be working out, does it? Though I suppose then somebody could argue that the Sunak government is still part of this exceptional political period.”

He added: “I think the worry is if you get the next government - say if it's of a different political party, I think it would be complacent to say, 'well, these problems were of a previous political party, we won't be like that, we'll behave better and things will be fine'.

“I think what this period shows to me is there is a need for some kind of systematic institutional change in the way we like, look at the rules that apply to ministers and their conduct.

“And the Labour Party, for example, have the proposal around creating a new commission and an integrity and ethics commission.

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“I'm not saying that will solve all the problems, but something like that, something which is a more significant constitutional reform or institutional change, seems to me to be necessary.

“Because I guess the thing with the May and Johnson era is it seems that even if it was an exceptional period in which all this happened and it was driven by context, well, in some ways, you can't put the genie back in the bottle.”

Gordon also said the issue was important as it had impacts on the ability of citizens to have confidence in the functioning of government in a “coherent” way.

“This is part of a really important story about how in democratic states, if you see politicians kind of not complying with basic standards of ministerial conduct, then that does raise questions about like the legitimacy of the entire system,” he added.