'I didn't break the code... the PM decided': Rishi Sunak 'sad to see Geidt go'

Chancellor Rishi Sunak talks to Deputy Editor Anushka Asthana about Lord Geidt, partygate and whether or not he's gunning for the PM's job

Rishi Sunak has insisted he did not break the ministerial code, despite a suggestion from Boris Johnson's former ethics adviser that being fined by police could constitute a breach.

In a wide ranging interview with ITV News, the chancellor also said he was focused on dealing with the cost of living and wanted to reassure Britons that the UK will come out of the crisis "stronger on the other side".

He told ITV News he was "sad" about the resignation of Lord Geidt, who quit as ethics adviser days after saying it would be "reasonable" to suggest the fines issued to the PM and chancellor over Partygate could be a breach of the ministerial code.

Asked by Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana whether he agrees he may have broken the code, Mr Sunak said: "The ultimate arbiter of the ministerial code is the prime minister. That's how our system works. And the prime minister is fully addressed that matter previously."

Rishi Sunak insists he didn't break the ministerial code:

Mr Johnson decided at the start of June that neither he nor Mr Sunak had broken the code by being fined, after Lord Geidt said there was a "legitimate question" about their compliance with their duty to obey the law.

The PM responded, telling Lord Geidt that he'd "considered past precedents of ministers who have unwittingly breached regulations where there was no intent to break the law" and decided that neither him nor Chancellor Rishi Sunak had broken the code.

Lord Geidt resigned on Wednesday, telling the prime minister in a letter he said he was “disappointed” that the prime minister did not give a fuller account over how paying the fixed penalty notice did not breach the code.

He resigned over a separate issue, saying he was asked to consider measures that “risk a deliberate and purposeful breach of the ministerial code."

“I can have no part in this”, Lord Geidt said in his resignation letter.

Watch Rishi Sunak's interview with Anushka Asthana in full:

On Monday, while still the PM's independent adviser on ministerial interests, Lord Geidt told the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that "it's reasonable to say that perhaps a fixed-penalty notice and the prime minister paying for it may have constituted not meeting the overarching duty of the ministerial code of complying with the law."

Chancellor Sunak, speaking to ITV News on Wednesday, apologised for being fined, saying he is "really sorry for both the hurt and the anger that caused".

It's understood he was fined for briefly attending the prime minister's 56th birthday celebration in June 2020 before a business meeting in the same room, but Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who is said to have done the same, was not fined.

Mr Sunak said he accepts the decision made by the Metropolitan Police and had not queried why he was fined but the Cabinet Secretary was not.

Sunak says he respects police decision to fine him and not Cabinet Secretary Simon Case

He insisted he is focused on helping Britons deal with the cost of living, and he said he wanted to "reassure" people that the UK will get through the crisis.

He refused, however, to criticise the Bank of England after its former governor Lord King suggested it should have moved faster to raise interest rates given inflation recently reached a 40-year high.

Speaking to a group of Boots employees in Nottingham before sitting down for the interview, Mr Sunak said: "It's going to be okay and we'll get through this, and we'll come out stronger on the other side."

Rishi Sunak refuses to criticise the Bank of England

"I want everyone watching to be reassured that we have the tools we need and the determination to get inflation back under control," he told Anushka.

Asked about claims the Bank of England had been to slow to act, Mr Sunak said: "Their track record over 25 years of central bank independence in this country is that inflation has averaged 2%.

"Now, on people watching, I want them to be reassured. We will get this under control. We will reduce inflation."