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.

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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.

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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.

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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

    Comment number 433.

    24. HaveIGotThatWrong
    Ooo, Mr Policeman - Did the nasty man call you a naughty name...


    Oh Yes, you Have GotThatVeryWrong! Respect for law and order is the cornerstone of democracy. No one can be allowed to get away with treating a police officer that way. You or I wouldn't have got away with it!

    The fact he is still lying about it makes it even worse. He should have be sacked the same day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    I don't care what class people are from but 'Manners maketh the man' and if a Public Servant - which is what MPs are, lie, cheat, oppress the poor and sick, go insulting those they think beneath them and still walk around thinking they are God Almighty; then they really are pretty low down sons and daughters of ditches!

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    This is surely the most ridiculous news item in recent months. Mitchell resigns over words when an apology should have sufficed. There are others who decide to participate in wars causing casualties/death yet they remain. What a crazy crazy country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    We have moved into very worrying times when unsubstantiated claims are enough to ruin a man's reputation. Guess the BBC and police fed are taking their revenge for govt cuts to budgets and freeze on licence fee. Be warned MPs and Joe Public the police are now belong reproach. Behold, a media run police state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    Maybe the real reason that Mitchell resigned was that his (alleged) comments exposed the untruth underlying the Tory mantra, "We're all in it together!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    Mitchell didn't do anything wrong.
    He is a dedicated public servant and a thoroughly decent chap.
    This is a victory for mob rule.

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    I am glad this individual has resigned, his comments have shown what he and his colleagues really think of all public services.

    As a serving police officer the most worrying thing is that he still maintains that the officers are lying, and as such is challenging their integrity, why was he allowed to stay so long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    275. brian g

    The Leveson inquiry needs to reopened
    What's the point? To give Papa Hunt another promotion and Rupert unfettered access to his heart's desires?

    290. james

    Class warfare is truly alive and well on the BBC website!
    Oh do stop being such a drama queen - it's not warfare and government is choc full of arrogant privileged clowns

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    Mitchell has clearly been econmical with the truth. He should have made a full and frank apology. Which is something he did not. If he was not capable of doing this he should have resignd immediately.
    By supporting him in this manner Cameron reminds me of John Major. Nice guy but doomed. He needs to show some steel with his own party before it is too late.

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    Who cares ! He has gone, should have happened weeks ago. More importantly who lied? Mitchell or the 'old bill!' My money is on the 'old bill' conspiring to - fit him up ! bit of collusion via the notebooks! Whatever , slightly more important news today as per events in Cardiff , North Wales , that perv Saville and the associated establishment cover up! Being party agnostic , the time to leave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Should have gone weeks ago !

    These people get given a job in the cabinet and all touch with the general public (plebs as we are now know) goes out the window !

    They seem to forget they work for us !

    Back in the real world. If I was as rude to one of my customers I would get sacked !

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    I just wonder if all the drunken idiots that foul mouth the police on a Saturday night in every town across the country will loose their jobs the following week - I doubt it! There's no excuse for this - but please get real!

  • Comment number 421.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    Yet another example of dithering Cameron's incompetence. Mitchell should have been sacked weeks ago.How long did it take him to get rid of Coulson? Shambolic and weak

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    # 281 Andrew Mitchell was being insulting. David Cameron is merely being sarcastic. Still a good joke, though!

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    He only called the officer a "pleb", bloody ridiculas. Luckily it wasn't me or I would of used far better words, if the idiot hadn't let me in. And I wouldn't of resigned either, would of told em to sod off and grow up!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    Plebs 1
    Toffs 0 half time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    I find it very interesting that this is being pre rather than post moderated.

    That does rather suggest that the issue is one that the BBC feels sensitive over. Why I wonder?

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    The man had a bad day? Haven't we all? However, what made it right for him to go was his constant (and still) denial of the words he used. It is this arrogance and propensity to lie that has brought him down. Fellow MP's be warned, we have had enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    Here's a Xmas party game.

    Try picking a Cabinet from the 304 Conservative and 57 Lib Dem MPs.

    Osborne is a cert, then Vince Cable, after that it's a case of picking the least worst for the job.


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