Where is our ministerial code?


Following the recent political bacchanal in which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is now facing allegations of corruption, or sleaze as the British would put it, regarding an unsavoury “bodies pile high” covid19 comment and dubious financing of the refurbishment to his Downing Street flat, I was admittedly tempted to simply conclude that corruption is everywhere and give TT a “real-place” free pass. We’re a budding nation after all, a babe compared to the UK.

Thankfully, however, measured consideration of the rod and child idiom spared me from such a rash and misguided conclusion. I mean, surely you would agree that “we all corrupt, but they more corrupt than us” is not the sentiment we should ever wish to promote.

Besides, unlike in TT, an allegation is not the end of the story, never to be heard from again. In fact, Johnson now faces at least two independent investigations, including one by the Electoral Commission and another by Lord Geidt (Crossbench peer in the House of Lords), who was appointed by Johnson himself as an investigator of ministers’ standards and interest to “ascertain the facts surrounding” the refurbishment works and advise him “on any further registration of interests that may be needed” in keeping with the UK’s ministerial code.

Of course, the latter of these scenarios is by no means a best-in-class approach to dealing with such a situation, as while a breach of the code necessitates the resignation of the defaulter or failing such their firing by the Prime Minister, in this case the ultimate arbiter is the subject of the investigation, effectively placing him as the judge in his own trial.

Nevertheless, it behoves me to note that at least a timely and independent investigation will be done, with the facts laid bare for the entire world to see. As such, we must therefore ask ourselves: if TT is a real place, where is our ministerial code by which we can similarly hold our politicians and ministers to account?

Certainly it doesn’t require the passage of any laws, and can easily be implemented by the flick of the PM’s pen. So why hasn’t any government implemented one? After all, isn’t it the UK’s Westminster parliamentary system from which we proudly boast that ours’ derives?

But perhaps one can cheekily surmise that it’s in the same boat with the long in coming campaign finance, whistle blower and public procurement legislation.