Theresa May rejects minister’s shock resignation

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Theresa May has rejected international development minister Lord Michael Bates’ resignation hours after he dramatically quit at the despatch box.

Lord Bates told peers he was “offering his resignation” to the Prime Minister after saying he was “thoroughly ashamed for failing to be in his place to respond to a question from a peer”.

Mrs May is on a trade visit to China, but No. 10 said his resignation had been refused.

A spokesman said: “With typical sincerity, Lord Bates today offered to tender his resignation after missing the start of an Oral Questions session in the House of Lords, but his resignation was refused as it was judged this was unnecessary.

“As a hard-working and diligent minister, it is typical of his approach that he takes his responsibilities to Parliament so seriously.

“He has received support from across the House and we are pleased that he has decided to continue in his important roles at the Department for International Development and HM Treasury.”

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The brief resignation was one of the most dramatic in recent years.

Lord Bates, who has been in the Lords since 2008, stood up to say he had not been in his place when he was supposed to answer a question from Labour peer Ruth Lister.

“I want 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 at the beginning of questions,” Lord Bates said.

“During the five years in which it’s been my privilege to answer questions from this dispatch box on behalf of the government, I’ve always believed that we should 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 apologise.”