A British member of the House of Lords quit his government post after turning up late to answer questions, saying he was “thoroughly ashamed” of himself – before later un-resigning after the prime minister rejected his exit as “unnecessary.”
Lord Bates, a junior minister in the UK Department for International Development, stunned colleagues when he announced he missed a question from Baroness Lister of Burtersett in parliament’s upper chamber Wednesday.
“I wonder if you permit me to offer my sincere apologies to Baroness Lister for my discourtesy in not being in my place to answer her question on a very important matter,” Lord Bates said shortly after he arrived at his place.
“During the five years of which it’s been my privilege to answer questions from the despatch box on behalf of the government, I’ve always believed we should offer – rise – to the highest possible standards of courtesy and respect in responding on behalf of the government to the legitimate questions of the legislature.”
“I’m thoroughly ashamed at not being in my place and therefore I shall be offering my resignation to the Prime Minister with immediate effect. I do apologize.”
Bates appeared to then walk out of the chamber as other Lords shouted “No” to his shock announcement.
Baroness Smith of Basildon, the opposition Labour party’s leader in the House of Lords, sprang to her feet to assure Lord Bates he had no reason to resign over a “minor discourtesy.”
Several hours later, a statement from 10 Downing Street applauded Lord Bates’ “typical sincerity” but said he had been convinced to keep his job.
“His resignation was refused as it was judged this was unnecessary,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said. “As a hard-working and diligent minister, it is typical of his approach that he takes his responsibilities to Parliament so seriously.”
Lord Bates is a frontbencher in May’s Conservative government and was appointed Minister of State at the Department for International Development in 2016. He has served as deputy speaker and deputy chairman of the Lords before.
He was first appointed to the House of Lords in 2008 and has quit his post before to go trekking in South America.
It was not immediately clear if Lord Bates had any other reason for standing down.