Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell resigns over Plebgate
Andrew Mitchell has resigned from his post as the government’s chief whip amongst claims that he referred to police officers as “plebs” and “morons” in 10 Downing Street.
Mr Mitchell has continued to deny his use of the words attributed to him in relation to policemen. He conceded that he had in fact, sworn at a policeman, who had then gone on to accept his apology, but insisted he would not have used such derogatory terms.
He wrote in his letter of resignation: “I have made clear to you – and I give you my categorical assurance again – that I did not, never have and never would call a police officer a ‘pleb’ or a ‘moron’ or use any of the other pejorative descriptions attributed to me.”
Prime Minister David Cameron responded to the letter, saying that Mr Mitchell was right to apologise for swearing at a policeman, but said that he regretted that Mitchell would have to resign.
He said: “I understand why you have reached the conclusion you have, and why you have decided to resign from the government. I regret that this has become necessary, and I am very grateful for all you have done, both in government and in opposition – as well as for the kind words in your letter.“
Mr Mitchell has received an outpouring of support from fellow Conservative members, with many coming forward to praise his work in politics.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith wrote on Twitter: “Andrew Mitchell should be remembered as the best Development Secretary this country has had.”
However, the resignation has drawn comment from Labour MPs, concerned about why action against Mr Mitchell was not taken earlier.
Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister, Michael Dugher, said: “After weeks in complete denial, Andrew Mitchell has finally bowed to public pressure. What people will want to know is why, when the entire country could see that what Andrew Mitchell did was wrong, the prime minister totally failed to act.”
Education secretary Michael Gove responded by saying that it was the prime minister’s belief in his politicians that made him such a strong leader, saying: “He believes in backing those who work for him.”
Mr Mitchell has been replaced by 71-year-old old Etonian Sir George Young, who departed his post as leader of the Commons after the summer cabinet reshuffle.