BORIS Johnson has watered down the ministerial code in the wake of Sue Gray's report as he also looks to block his ethics adviser investigating him. 

Following the report's publication which slated the "culture" that led to the partygate scandal, Johnson has rewritten the code so that if ministers are found to have breached its rules then they will not have to resign.

Comparisons have been drawn between the old and new-look forward of the code as explicit reference to the seven Nolan principles of public life - integrity, objectivity, accountability, transparency, honesty and leadership in the public interest - have been removed. 

The new code also relaxes the strictness of the rules. Where previously ministers would be expected to resign if they were found to breach its contents, the code should now “guide my ministers on how they should act and arrange their affairs".

The Prime Minister will now be able to keep an offending frontbencher “where he retains confidence in the minister” but can ask for “some form public apology, remedial action or removal of ministerial salary for a period”.

The policy statement announcing the new code read: “It is disproportionate to expect that any breach, however minor, should lead automatically to resignation or dismissal.”

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And in the previous introduction, it was written that ministers must  "uphold the very highest standards of propriety" which is no longer found in the new edition.

Commenting on the change, Labour's Angela Rayner said: "Boris Johnson has today rewritten his own foreword to the ministerial code, removing all reference to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability. He is downgrading standards and debasing the principles of public life before our very eyes."

Labour's David Lammy tweeted: "@BorisJohnson has not only repeatedly lied and broken the law, he has now destroyed the Ministerial Code so Ministers who break the rules don’t have to resign. The shameless @Conservatives are obliterating decency and integrity from public life."

Comedian Frankie Boyle wrote on Twitter: "You can’t make them care, but once they stop pretending to care, you’re in trouble"

Meanwhile, SNP treasury spokesperson Alison Thewliss retweeted Mhairi Black's speech in the Commons on fascism while saying: "Worth sharing @MhairiBlack’s speech today as the Prime Minister has moved from ignoring the Ministerial Code to further watering it down."

Commenting, the SNP’s Depute Westminster Leader, Kirsten Oswald said: “These are the actions of a guilty man - a Prime Minister caught bang to rights on his lockdown law-breaking and now desperate to save his own skin.

“The antics of this corrupt Prime Minister and his sleazy Westminster government continue, and they have now doubled down in a pathetic bid to save the career of one law-breaking man. Their arrogance and sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

“If the Prime Minister, any Prime Minister, breaks the law or the Ministerial Code they should go - no ifs, no buts. It is scandalous that Boris Johnson has been able to keep his position so shamelessly, and is now rewriting the Ministerial Code and blocking attempts for independent investigations into his conduct - the very things that exist to keep him in check. These are actions worthy of a tin-pot dictator.

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Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has also dismissed calls from ethics advisor Lord Geidt to allow him the power to independently launch investigations into ministerial behaviour.

Geidt had reportedly been "shaken" by the furore over who funded the refurbishment of Johnson's flat, and that the scandal demonstrated “insufficient regard or respect for the role of independent adviser”.

According to the Mirror, political aides in Downing Street discussed plans to bolster Geidt’s role before the release of the Sue Gray report but that they had to put the proposals to Johnson for his permission.

And on Friday, in a long-delayed redesign of the role, the independent adviser on the ministerial code will get their own office, website and staff.

However, the Government has also announced that the independent adviser will need the Prime Minister's "consent" before launching their own investigations.