UK's Truss Fires Minister Burns After 'Misconduct' Complaint




  • In World
  • 2022-10-07 16:53:36Z
  • By Bloomberg
 

(Bloomberg) -- Liz Truss fired her trade minister Conor Burns following a "complaint of serious misconduct," a spokesperson for the prime minister said in an emailed statement Friday, without giving details.

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Burns has also been suspended from the ruling Conservative parliamentary party pending an investigation.

His dismissal is yet another setback for Truss following a dismal annual party conference in Birmingham this week, which descended into infighting over her U-turn on a key policy. It will put renewed focus on the personal conduct of Tory MPs, which also undermined her predecessor Boris Johnson.

By firing Burns quickly, Truss will hope to avoid the fallout of the Chris Pincher affair, in which Johnson angered his backbenchers by not immediately dismissing Pincher over allegations of sexual assault.

"The prime minister took direct action on being informed of this allegation and is clear that all ministers should maintain the high standards of behavior -- as the public rightly expects," the spokesperson said in the statement.

In a statement on Twitter, Burns said he would "fully cooperate" with the party's inquiry and "look forward to clearing my name."

Despite acting fast, Truss is still likely to face questions over her judgment in appointing Burns, who was previously a Northern Ireland minister trusted by Johnson with repairing relations with the US over Brexit. He has previously resigned from government in 2020, after he used his position as an MP to intimidate a member of the public.

Earlier this year a Conservative MP resigned after admitting to watching porn in Parliament, and another unnamed Tory MP was arrested over allegations of rape and sexual assault. In April, Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned his seat after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy in 2008, and the opposition Labour Party won the subsequent by-election in Wakefield.

The suspension of the whip from Burns reduces the Conservative Party's working majority in the House of Commons to 69. Elected in 2010, Burns is the MP for Bournemouth West and has a majority of 10,150.

"In terms of politics as a whole it's always worrying because we all expect and hope to maintain the highest standards in public life," government minister Victoria Prentis told Times Radio in response to the complaint against Burns.

(Updates with Burns statement in sixth paragraph)

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