Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to resign from your government, upon receipt of the report resulting from the investigation conducted by Adam Tolley KC.
I called for the investigation and promised to resign if any form of bullying was found. I think it’s important to keep my word.
It has been a privilege to serve you as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Lord Chancellor.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve as a minister in various positions and departments since 2015, and I would like to pay tribute to the many outstanding officials with whom I have worked.
While I feel obligated to accept the outcome of the investigation, it has rejected all but two claims against me.
I also believe that the two negative findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for good governance behavior.
Firstly, ministers must be able to supervise senior officials directly over critical negotiations conducted on behalf of the British people, otherwise the democratic and constitutional principle of ministerial accountability will be lost.
This was particularly the case during my time as Foreign Secretary, in the context of the Brexit negotiations over Gibraltar, when a senior diplomat breached the mandate agreed by the Cabinet.
Second, ministers must be able to provide direct critical feedback on briefings and submissions to senior officials, to set the standards and drive the reforms the public expects of us.
Of course, this must be done within reasonable limits. Mr. Tolley concluded that in four and a half years I had not once cursed or yelled at, let alone thrown or otherwise physically intimidated, nor deliberately attempted to belittle anyone.
I sincerely apologize for any unintentional stress or insult officials felt as a result of the pace, standards and challenge I faced the Department of Justice. However, that is what the public expects from ministers working on their behalf.
By setting the threshold for bullying so low, this study has set a dangerous precedent.
It will encourage false complaints against ministers and have a chilling effect on those who are making change on behalf of your government – and ultimately the British people.
Finally, I have discussed with you a number of improprieties that have come to light in the course of this investigation.
These include the systematic leaking of skewed and fabricated allegations to the media, in violation of investigative rules and the code of conduct for civil servants, and the forcible removal by a senior official of dedicated private secretaries from my Justice Department cabinet in October last year.
I hope these will be independently reviewed.
I continue to support you and this government as much as I did when I first introduced you at your campaign launch last July.
You have proved to be a great Prime Minister in very difficult times, and you can count on my support from the backseat.