Should Robert Jenrick resign?

The housing minister is in trouble


Boris Johnson still has 'full confidence' in Robert Jenrick despite Richard Desmond housing row

The prime minister has offered his support to embattled Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, saying he still has "full confidence" in the minister despite a row over his controversial decision to award a development project to Tory donor Richard Desmond.

Opposition MPs have been calling for Mr Jenrick to resign, saying he broke the ministerial code when he overruled a planning inspector to approve an application made by Mr Desmond to build the Westferry Printworks redevelopment scheme in east London.

Mr Jenrick made the decision after sitting next to media mogul Mr Desmond at a Tory fundraising event and being shown about “three or four minutes” of promotional video about the project.

According to Mr Desmond, after watching the video, Mr Jenrick told him "sorry Richard. I can’t discuss it".

The Cabinet minister then granted permission for the 1,500-flat development, the day before a new council community levy would have cost Mr Desmond’s company an extra £40 million.

The decision was later reversed after legal action by Tower Hamlets Council and Mr Jenrick admitted what he did was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias”.

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Should Robert Jenrick resign from the cabinet?

By Joe Harker

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is under pressure to resign after information surfaced which indicated he helped a Tory party donor save millions in council payments for a new development.

The donor in question is Richard Desmond, who lobbied Jenrick to speed up a planning decision on a £1 billion development of his in east London.

Details of the connection between the two men has raised concerns that the secretary could have to go after being caught out.

The Claim:

The Guardian reports new documents show Jenrick "insisted" a planning decision was rushed through to save Desmond's company £45 million in fees to Tower Hamlets council.

Text messages show Desmond wanted to avoid paying the fees to the Labour controlled council, the poorest borough in London, with one of his messages reading "We don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe for nothing!"

Presumably he meant to write "dough", a term for money.

Jenrick later overturned a decision made by Tower Hamlets council and the government's planning inspectorate so that he could approve a 44 storey development at Westferry Printworks with up to 1,500 flats.

Two weeks after the development was approved Desmond donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party, while Jenrick later had to quash his own approval of the project and conceded his decision had been unlawful.

The housing secretary is now facing calls to resign after accusations of a "cash for favours" deal where a Tory donor's development was rushed through to save him paying £45 million to the local council.

The Counter Claim:

Jenrick retains the support of prime minister Boris Johnson, who has said he retains "full confidence" in the ability of his minister to stay in his post.

That doesn't mean a sacking wouldn't occur or that behind the scenes Jenrick wouldn't be urged to go of his own accord.

It's a far less severe punishment than the one Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer handed out to shadow education secretary yesterday, sacking her almost before her actions became a story.

Downing Street has appeared to circle the wagons around Jenrick, though they have kept a healthy distance between themselves and the housing secretary.

If Jenrick doesn't want to resign and the prime minister won't push him to go then it's possible that he might stay in place amidst a storm of criticism.

The Facts:

You can read the documents on the matter here.

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