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.

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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
    -2

    Comment number 1153.

    Labour are such hypocrites!
    Have they forgotten that Gordon Brown was losing his temper all the time and throwing things at his workers. What about him calling one of the subjects a bigot!
    While I think Mitchell was in the wrong, he apologised. I haven't heard Labour apologise for anything. People in the glass house.........

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1152.

    This is not really about swearing though is it. It's about the way Mitchell views the working man and woman - as plebs. Beneath him, not as good as him, in some way not worthy of courtesy. It's also about whether a police office on duty at Downing Street lied in his official report. If he did then the copper is sacked on the spot. If he told the truth then Mitchell was toast from the start.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1151.

    The main point is not exactly what he said but that he DENIED saying what the officers accused him of saying thereby insinuating that they were telling lies.He then refused to give his account.I doubt that the officers were that bothered about what was said but,who was saying it,and then to deny saying it.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 1150.

    @1010 "why can't we all have the decency to forgive him?"

    Swearing can be forgiven.But what the rest of the words revealed can't - he thinks that his social inferiors should know their place and stay there. That can't be unsaid.

    Like losing it, swearing at your wife and saying her best friend is better in bed. You can apologise for the language, but the rest may destroy your marriage.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1149.

    Actually Gideon seems to have chosen the right day

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1148.

    I'd like to just add, given the queueing on posts that's occurring and the time of night, there's been a grand effort from the Moderators!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1147.

    What a joke. Some jobs worth in a uniform brings down a cabinet minister!

    The whole country is stood on its head. He should have stayed and faced down the non-entities in the Labour Party.

    Anyone remember hearing about Brown swearing at Downing Street secretaries? Typical Left wing hypocrisy.

    Hopefully, he'll be back.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1146.

    77.
    milford haven

    I can't believe this guy has resigned because of a glorified doorman.

    You show as much contempt for the Diplomatic Police protection unit as did the ex Chief Whip. Theses glorified doormen would take a bullet for this worthless, rude self improtant idiot. The security rule says he uses the pedestrian gate he decided the rule were beneath him. He still has yet to learn respect!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1145.

    Sometimes you get peed off and you swear, so what?! Apologise for your rash outburst and get on with life.

    This whole thing is a joke.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1144.

    Re766 Krockodil Not often I disagree with your posts. The video I saw John Prescott Was clearly assaulted by someone who threw an egg at him! The Ex boxer acted instinctively and did EXACTLY what I and THOUSANDS of other Brits would have done in SELF defense! I and many others saw it as a blow for common law and sense rather than lawyer fodder! I have never liked or supported him. I do on that!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1143.

    It is plain from the tone of many comments here that the majority of posters are from the political left & positively revel in making small minded remarks.
    Of course the sound of silence is deafening when one of "their" political representatives is found to have feet of clay....
    (That should be good for at least minus 20; a score to be proud of here).

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1142.

    Without the Police Federation challenging Mitchell for in effect saying the Met Police Officer had lied and keeping the story in the public domain Mitchell would have got away with it.

    It's a sad state of affairs when we have to rely upon the Police Federation to get the truth out and get the Prime Minister to accept that Mitchell should do the honourable and right thing and resign.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1141.

    To be fair, I expect 90% of the population don't give a stuff about this saga.

    Pleb? Seriously, it's not even an insult.

    Syria is in turmoil, the EU is stitching up an empire and our main news is a guy resigning over calling a policeman a pleb (allegedly).

    What a joke.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1140.

    It's about time he went. These Tories are amateurish buffoons with a total lack of empathy or compassion for those who have to live in the real world of hard-graft or unemployment. Cameron has shown himself to be weak and confused, indecisive and incompetent. He's toast.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1139.

    Loses his temper with a cop, swearing and calling him a pleb, denies it, backtracks, apologises, Dave says it's all okay and backs him to the hilt, Police Fed (pushing their own agenda) keep the media ball rolling and he resigns (but still denies the pleb remark)...you couldn't make it up. I'm pleased to see they appear to be trying to self destruct, what with the train ticket incident as well.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1138.

    Glad to see the press and public are concentrating on the important issues.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1137.

    Frankly, it's more about attitude than what's actually been said.
    With that in mind, there are no surprises at all here.
    This idiot let his cover slip and he will be replaced, undoubtedly by someone whose attitude towards " ordinary" people differs little, but may be concealed rather more efficiently.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1136.

    Put you hand up if you have ever lost your temper and said something you later regretted. Keep your hand up if you then lost your job and life long career as a result of doing so.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 1135.

    Amazing, a former Cabinet Minister can physically assault a member of the public (Two Jags), a former Prime Minister can lead this country into wars which cost the lives of thousands, a former Chancellor can freakin' BANKRUPT this country and yet and YET the main gripe against Cameron and his cronies is their Class.Pathetic. What a Bankrupt rotten jealous pathetic mentality.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1134.

    The sense of Schadenfreude is palpable on this comments page. Another fall of the guillotine, another head rolling. We might as well be living in Paris at the end of the eighteenth-century given the power of this frenzied mob. Life is constructed from jibes and insults - so a policeman is termed a pleb- tis hardly a whipping offence. How many times has he heard worse from people on the street?

 

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