LONDON (Reuters) - An anti-corruption group called on Britain on Tuesday to toughen its ethics rules for politicians after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government watered down a code of conduct in the midst of an outcry over rule-breaking by Johnson himself.
A day after 41% of lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party tried to oust Johnson as their leader, Transparency International UK called for reforms to restore trust in politics and ensure its oversight.
"Recent events have demonstrated how long-standing conventions around ethical standards in public life are no longer observed as a matter of course, and provide a poor check against misconduct by those in power," Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said.
"This slipping of standards and the decisions arising from it risks fuelling inequality, holding back our economy, and undermining effective responses to crises here at home."
The group called for the Ministerial Code, which sets out standards of conduct for senior politicians, to be made statutory to prevent it from being discarded or disregarded by the prime minister of the day, among other changes.
Last month, the government announced alterations to its ethics rules which meant ministers who breached the code would no longer be expected to resign.
On Monday, Conservative lawmaker John Penrose quit as the government's anti-corruption champion, saying it was clear Johnson broke the code.
Johnson told parliament last year he had not attended parties when they were barred during COVID lockdowns.
Johnson was subsequently fined by police for having attended a party in his Downing Street office but he said he had not misled parliament because at the time he believed the event was work-related and not a party.
(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)