Andrew Mitchell resigns over police comments row

 
Andrew Mitchell Mr Mitchell has been under pressure over the remarks for weeks

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Andrew Mitchell has quit as government chief whip after weeks of pressure over an argument with police officers in Downing Street.

The Tory MP has admitted swearing at officers in the incident but again denied calling police "plebs".

He told David Cameron - who has stood by him - that "damaging publicity" meant he could no longer do his job.

Former Commons leader Sir George Young will be the new chief whip, Downing Street said.

Mr Mitchell's resignation is a victory for the Police Federation and Labour who have led calls for him to go.

But it spells the end of a 25-year political career for the Sutton Coldfield MP, who was promoted from international development secretary to chief whip in September's cabinet reshuffle.

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson said Mr Mitchell told the prime minister about his decision in person, at Mr Cameron's country residence Chequers.

The prime minister has accepted his resignation.

'Learn your place'

In his resignation letter, Mr Mitchell says "it has become clear to me that whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter I will not be able to fulfil my duties as we both would wish.

Start Quote

This is a serious setback for David Cameron as he held onto Mr Mitchell instead of sacking him straight after his angry clash”

End Quote

"Nor is it fair to continue to put my family and colleagues through this upsetting and damaging publicity".

He repeats his "categorical assurance" that he did not call police officers "plebs" - as alleged in the police report on the incident.

But he adds: "The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark 'I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us'.

"It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it and grateful to the police officer for accepting my apology."

Mr Mitchell - whose job was to maintain discipline on the Conservative benches - was thrust into the spotlight when The Sun accused him in a front page story of calling police "plebs".

His outburst came after armed police stopped him from cycling through the main Downing Street gate, instead directing him to the smaller pedestrian gate.

He is reported to have used foul language and told the officer at the gates to "learn your place" and "you don't run this government".

'Complete denial'

The officer concerned reported the incident to his superiors and the official police log, which appeared to contradict Mr Mitchell's story, was later leaked to the media.

Start Quote

David Cameron is left looking profoundly weak and totally out of touch”

End Quote Michael Dugher Shadow Cabinet Office Minister

Mr Mitchell came under intense pressure from the Police Federation - which represents rank-and-file officers - and which refused to accept his version of events.

The MP stayed away from the Conservative Party conference in an attempt to defuse the row, but despite the support of backbench Tory MPs it became clear when Parliament returned from recess on Monday that it was not going to go away.

Mr Mitchell's fate is believed to have been sealed on Wednesday, when deputy chief whip John Randall reportedly had to be talked out of quitting in protest at his determination to cling on, following a stormy prime minister's question time.

In his letter of reply to Mr Mitchell, Mr Cameron said he "understood" why Mr Mitchell was resigning, adding: "I regret this has become necessary."

Shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher, for Labour, 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 Mr Mitchell did was wrong, the prime minister totally failed to act.

"David Cameron is left looking profoundly weak and totally out of touch, doing everything he could to hold on to Mr Mitchell only for his chief whip to bow to the inevitable given the understandable public anger."

'Honesty and integrity'

Nick Robinson said the fight had gone out of Mr Mitchell, who was considered to be a fighter and a former soldier who loved political scrapping.

Our correspondent said he had fallen victim to the persistence of the Labour Party - "who portrayed him as all that was worst about the government, symbolising one rule for those at the top and one for everyone else" - and the Police Federation who were fighting the government over cuts and reform.

Start Quote

Somebody lost his temper. Frankly, big deal. All sorts of people lose their temper in their daily lives, it's part of human nature”

End Quote Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative MP

"In the end he fell victim to his past behaviour, with too few people prepared to defend him, the tough guy paid for just being too tough", he added.

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: "It is not good to see anyone fall from public office but the decision by the prime minister to accept Andrew Mitchell's resignation seemed almost inevitable.

"Andrew Mitchell has apologised to our Metropolitan Police colleague and our colleague has accepted the apology. We hope this matter is now closed."

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said the incident had been "hugely exaggerated".

"Somebody lost his temper. Frankly, big deal. All sorts of people lose their temper in their daily lives, it's part of human nature. To blow this up into a resignation issue has been rather unfortunate and actually trivialises politics when there are many important things going on," he told BBC's Newsnight.

Mr Mitchell told our correspondent he will seek to deliver a personal resignation statement in the Commons early next week.

The new chief whip, Sir George Young, was thought to have retired to the backbenches after giving up his position as leader of the House of Commons in September's reshuffle.

The Tory grandee, who went to Eton and became an MP in 1974, had held the post since 2010, but was replaced by former health secretary, Andrew Lansley.

Sir George has some experience of the government whips office, serving there in 1990 and also acting as an opposition whip under Margaret Thatcher before she became prime minister in 1979.

During the 1980s and 1990s, he held a range of ministerial positions, including transport secretary in 1995.

 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 273.

    Plebs of the world unite.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 272.

    Good riddance but still question mark over 'pleb' comment ~ did he say it or was account officer's embelished for political point scoring?

    Decades ago it might have been unthinkable to question a police officers integrity but cases like the Hillsborough tragedy and the dozens of altered statements illustrate that not all officers are trustworthy however non-pc that viewpoint might be!!

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 271.

    A good man brought down by a smear campaign instigated by the newly emergent loony left and their loony leader Miily Brand.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 270.

    Profile - Andrew Mitchel man from and era that has past AKA a complete snob unfortunately not extinct and may surface else were, keep a sharp eye and don't let him in

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 269.

    Thank goodness now can our MP's of all parties get on with the job they are paid to do instead of behaving like kids in a playground

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 268.

    Interesting timing too. Lets do it on Friday night when people will have other more interesting things on there mind. Won't work - it'll still be newsworthy that Cameron was so weak over what was a clear cut case for dismissal.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 267.

    What an idiot, talk about backing yourself into a corner, If you come clean your fired and if you deny it you are claiming that the police are liars and make things up and their statements cant be trusted. Hmmmmm either way that was going to end in tears, cant believe it took this long.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 266.

    It's just a matter of time now until we find out word for word what was actually said. It'll also be interesting to see how the police handle it if Andrew Mitchell was known to have lied.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 265.

    Right decision - he should go for a whole host of reasons. However, don't assume the police are telling the exact truth. They have a real beef with the Government about their terms and conditions (pensions etc) so are happy to have got a scalp, especially the Police Federation (their Union). As one of your other comments says, no media or public heard the remark and there were many there.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 264.

    Mitchel claims to have said:
    'I thought you guys were supposed to (moderated) help us"

    Has it really taken Mitchell this long to come up with this as something that may have been mis-heard as Pleb by several Specialist Police Officers ?
    Even a mere Pleb isn't not that daft !

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 263.

    This man is nothing more than a pompous arrogant ass and I for one do not want him or others like him governing me.

    I wonder, if I were to approach a police officer and verbally abuse him, would I be sent on my merry way or would I be arrested (or possibly worse if I were blind aswell).

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 262.

    I think Osbourne should go next, having refused to share a carriage with us "plebs" but not wanting to pay for the upgrade to 1st class. I mean, what's a £160 to a millionaire?!

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 261.

    192 paulthebadger
    Couldn't agree more - I believe they apologised for tasering the blind guy, but if they don't know the difference between a white stick (and what it signifies) and a samurai sword - they deserve to be called plebs. It seems there's one law for them and one for us.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 260.

    This man was in the army. We have all had a bad day. I rarely see the police in my area and i so wish they would tackle hardened crims in the same way!!!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 259.

    Next.....Grant Shapps!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 258.

    This should have happened 3 weeks ago. These people who are put in these priveleged positions should know better, first and foremost to be an example. The remarks this man made are of the lowest common denominator and should in any circumstances not be acceptable. Justice has now been done.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 257.

    Mitchell is a thoroughly unpleasant, pompous and arrogant lout but this is not something he should have to resign over. I have heard worse things said by politicians of all stripes, trade union barons, bankers and captains of industry. What he said has nothing to do with him being a Tory, it's because of who he is.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 256.

    He clearly did not understand the game the police Union , labour party and BBC were playing with him .
    Should have come out fighting , demanded the officer be investigated for his FALSE statement and denounced the police federation as the agitating pro labour union they are .

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 255.

    Yess!!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 254.

    When the police start to respect the public, and are no longer allowed to get away, literally, with murder, I'll start getting excited about a silly little spat like this. Oh, and Pete Lewis (157), read up the Hillsborough affair, and you'll find that the police are the biggest liars of all.

 

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    06:53: Crumbling parliament
    Palace of Westminster

    The Palace of Westminster, which hasn't had a major renovation since its construction in the mid-19th century, will have to be "abandoned" if nothing's done, John Bercow warned last night. At a Hansard Society event in parliament, the Speaker said taxpayers would have to brace themselves for a £3bn bill - and MPs and peers might have to temporarily find somewhere else to hold their debates. "If we were to decant, should we consider all options including, almost certainly, a regional option?" Mr Bercow pondered. "We should." Our story on his comments is here.

     
  44.  
    @BarrySheerman Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield

    tweets: Will be interesting how media deals with child abuse revelations in Oxfordshire compared to Rotherham @BBCr4today

     
  45.  
    06:47: 'Girls let down'

    Today's summit coincides with what is expected to be a damning report on child sex abuse in Oxfordshire. Lead investigator into that case Det Ch Insp Simon Morton said has told the BBC police "completely let the girls down". Read more.

     
  46.  
    06:42: Analysis: child sex abuse Alison Holt Social Affairs Editor, BBC News

    David Cameron will talk about classifying child sexual abuse as a national threat. The idea is to push it up the agenda because one of the issues that comes up time and again is that other policing priorities have tended to be placed before protecting vulnerable teenagers.

    It's also about educating professionals because it appears that in the past they sometimes put what was happening to these girls down to lifestyle choice. These are teenagers who are difficult to communicate with, stroppy when someone asks if they need help, but point being made is that they are still children. They need the professionals to stick with them to get their trust.

     
  47.  
    06:40: A sin-bin for MPs

    Labour's focus today is about repairing politics as a whole, not just Parliament. Shadow leader of the House Angela Eagle is outlining plans for political reform which she says are essential if politicians are to "restore faith in our political process". Today's package includes previously advertised plans to give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, press ahead with devolution and replace the Lords with a Senate of the Nations and Regions. But it also includes new proposals to send rowdy MPs who are misbehaving in the Commons chamber into a rugby-style sin-bin. "Sometimes MPs take it too far and it turns the public off," Ms Eagle explains.

     
  48.  
    06:29: Front pages
  49.  
    06:24: Child sexual exploitation
    Rochdale skyline

    David Cameron is in Downing Street today with a raft of senior cabinet figures holding a summit on child sexual exploitation. Representatives from local areas like Rochdale, as well as victims and child protection experts, will size up the government's new package of measures, which includes:

    • Tougher penalties for senior public sector workers who fail to protect children
    • A new national whistleblowing helpline
    • The prioritisation of child sexual abuse by police chiefs

    "We owe it to our children, and to the children who survive horrific sexual abuse, to do better," Mr Cameron says. Here's the full story.

     
  50.  
    06:23: Control order row

    The issue of Syria - and specifically whether the government's decisions on counter-terrorism might have made it easier for would-be jihadists to travel there - was the subject of an urgent Commons question on Monday. Yvette Coooper, shadow home secretary, pressed her opposite number Theresa May on the issue, but Mrs May was adamant that she had taken the right decisions, including scrapping control orders, to keep the UK safe.

     
  51.  
    06:20: Round the houses

    Yesterday, housing was the big focus, with David Cameron announcing a plan for 200,000 new starter homes. For his part, Ed Miliband was unimpressed and said Labour would go further - he accused Mr Cameron of presiding over the slowest rate of house building since the 1920s.

     
  52.  
    06:13: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to a fresh Tuesday's political coverage. Victoria King and Alex Stevenson will bring you all the action, reaction and analysis in text and you'll be able to watch and listen to all the main BBC political programmes, from Today and Breakfast through to Newsnight and Today in Parliament. Don't forget you can get in touch by emailing politics@bbc.co.uk or via social media @bbcpolitics. Here's how Monday unfolded.

     

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