Geidt, whose role was to advise Johnson on matters relating to the ministerial code of conduct, did not specify what the advice was about but said an intention to breach the code to suit a political end would have made a “mockery” of the code.
“This request has placed me in an impossible and odious position,” he said in his resignation letter to Johnson, which was published by the government on Thursday. “I can have no part in this.”
Johnson said in a letter in response that the issue Geidt was asked to consider was “potential future decisions related to the Trade Remedies Authority”, which may have conflicted with Britain‘s obligations under the World Trade Organization.
“My intention was to seek your advice on the national interest in protecting a crucial industry, which is protected in other European countries and would suffer material harm if we do not continue to apply such tariffs,” Johnson wrote.
“In seeking your advice before any decision was taken, I was looking to ensure that we acted properly with due regard to the ministerial code.”
Geidt was Johnson’s second ethics adviser to quit in the last two years. The previous holder of the role resigned in 2020 in protest at Johnson’s support for a minister who was found to have broken the code.