Lord Goldsmith has resigned from Government over its “apathy” towards the environment – just a day after he was censured by the privileges committee for undermining its inquiry into Boris Johnson.
In a scathing letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, the Foreign Office minister accused Rishi Sunak directly of being “simply uninterested” in climate issues.
The departure comes just a day after the Tory peer was censured in a report by the Privileges Committee which named Johnson allies said to have put “improper pressure” on its investigation into his partygate lies to MPs.
The cross-party panel had suggested Parliament should consider what action to take over Lord Goldsmith and seven other Conservative politicians over comments about the inquiry’s work.
Writing to Mr Sunak, the Tory peer wrote: “Prime Minister, having been able to get so much done previously, I have struggled even to hold the line in recent months.
“The problem is not that the Government is hostile to the environment, it is that you, our Prime Minister, are simply uninterested. That signal, or lack of it, has trickled down through Whitehall and caused a kind of paralysis.”
He added: “This Government’s apathy in the face of the greatest challenge we have faced makes continuing in my current role untenable. ”
Lord Goldsmith was among eight Conservative politicians criticised by the Privileges Committee on Thursday over comments it said were a co-ordinated attempt to undermine its investigation into Mr Johnson’s denials over pandemic-era parties in Downing Street.
The cross-party group of MPs cited a retweet posted by the Tory peer in June which called the inquiry, which ultimately found the former prime minister deliberately misled the Commons over the scandal, a witch hunt and a kangaroo court.
Only “one outcome”
“Exactly this,” he had added. “There was only ever going to be one outcome and the evidence was totally irrelevant to it.”
The committee said the Commons should consider whether the actions of MPs involved, including staunch Johnson loyalists Nadine Dorries and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, amounted to contempt of Parliament, as well as what further action to take.
Downing Street on Thursday said Mr Sunak had full confidence in Lord Goldsmith despite the follow-up report’s findings.
But the committee also said the upper chamber should be made aware of its findings and consider what action to take.
The Liberal Democrats said the Prime Minister should have “had the guts” to sack Lord Goldsmith the day before his ministerial resignation following his “brutal” censure.
Sarah Olney, the party’s Treasury spokeswoman, said: “This Conservative chaos is never-ending.
“Every day brings more more resignations and scandal in this depressing Westminster soap opera.
“Rishi Sunak should have had the guts to sack Zac Goldsmith yesterday when he was brutally criticised by the partygate watchdog. Sunak is clearly too weak to control his own party.”