Newly appointed Ministerial watchdog Lord Geidt made his debut appearance in front of MPs this week and fired several warning shots across Boris’s bow. As would be expected of the one time senior courtier, Geidt was understated and scrupulously polite but his intent was clear.
“I am determined,” he said, “ to assert that I have the independence to fulfil this role without fear or favour.” If that isn’t enough to put No 10 on alert he went on to say that he was prepared and willing to “speak truth to power.” He had more powers than his predecessors in the role and is perfectly willing to use them, he pointed out. He did not rule out resignation if he thought it was necessary, noting no Prime Minister would want to lose more than one advisor in the role.
Many have underestimated Geidt in previous jobs he has done and most wished they’d listened to his advice. The Prime Minister has, perhaps by accident, appointed a truly independent and fiercely rigorous person to police ministerial behaviour and Boris’s allies must hope he will not be the first to fall foul of his first investigation. The hope had been that Geidt, an establishment figure, would play nicely.
Following his appearance in front of MPs there is nervousness in Number 10. Rightly.