Rishi Sunak has insisted re-appointing an independent ethics adviser will be “one of the first things” he does in government if he wins the race to succeed Boris Johnson in No 10.
The former chancellor, who is competing against the foreign secretary Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest, added that he would “probably” bring back Lord Christopher Geidt if he is prepared to return.
It comes after the outgoing prime minister ignited outrage last month with plans to scrap the post of independent ethics adviser after suffering the humiliating resignations of two holders of the role.
Lord Geidt dramatically quit as ethics adviser to Mr Johnson in June after a string of scandals, and said he could “not be party to advising on any potential law breaking”, ramping up pressure on the PM’s position.
Following his resignation, No 10 failed to appoint a successor, refused to say whether Lord Geidt would be replaced, adding: “We haven’t made a final decision on how best to carry out that function”.
Quizzed on the issue after making the final two contenders in the race to replace Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak told LBC: “I definitely will reappoint an independent ethics adviser and it’ll be one of the first things I’ll do.”
The ex-chancellor said he had not had any conversations with the departed adviser Lord Geidt, but when asked whether he would reappoint him if we was prepared to return, he replied: “Well I probably would.
“I thought he did a good job in the first place. I haven’t spoken with him about it, so I don’t want to put him in an awkward position.”
The former chancellor added: “Restoring trust is at the hear of what I want to bring to the job and one of the first things I will do is make sure we put in place the structures and accountabilities so that all of you listening can have faith that the system will work and if people are not behaving in the way they should be they’ll be proper accountability.
“Having an independent ethics adviser is obviously critical to doing that”.
Earlier on Thursday, however, a new YouGov poll of Tory members showed Mr Sunak trailing his rival Ms Truss, who is 24 points ahead, in the Tory leadership contest.
YouGov said its survey of 730 members also showed that the foreign secretary, who has the backing of some of Mr Johnson’s closest allies, “holds sizeable advantages over Rishi Sunak on key metrics such as trustworthiness and ability to lead the party”.