The Johnson government was beset by ethical scandals for much of 2021, and 2022 began the same way, with ‘partygate’ dominating the news in January and February. While the prime minister – and backbench Conservatives – wait for the outcome of the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into possible lockdown breaches in Downing Street and the full publication of Sue Gray’s report, there are important reforms ministers should begin now to show they are serious about reinforcing ethical standards in government.
Throughout 2021, the Institute for Government made recommendations for such reforms. These have covered lobbying, in the fallout of the Greensill scandal; the role of non-executive director appointments after Matt Hancock’s resignation as health secretary; the role of various government watchdogs and how to increase their strength; and the ministerial code, which cuts across many of these issues.
This Insight paper brings together these recommendations, updated to take into account the most recent events. The changes fall into three categories: legislative, organisational and cultural.