British lord resigns melodramatically after late arrival to work

A British government minister has quit his job in theatrical fashion after he was left "thoroughly ashamed" by his late arrival to Parliament for a debate.

Michael Bates, a Conservative MP who works as an international development minister, was clearly left mortified by his tardiness in getting to the House of Lords, and expressed regret at not living up to "the highest possible standards of courtesy".

His apology was addressed primarily to Baroness Ruth Lister of Burtersett, a member of the Labour Party who had asked a question that he was best equipped to answer.

A colleague was forced to answer in his place, and Lord Bates arrived at the latter end of the session eager to make clear just how sorry he was.

"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," he 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."

He then stood down from the dispatch box and walked out of the chamber, to howls of protest from politicians from around the House.

Baroness Lister said despite being on the opposite side of the political divide, Lord Bates is the last minister she'd want to cause to resign.

"I made the point that he was one of the most courteous of ministers when he's answering questions at the dispatch box. Many ministers show us much greater discourtesy by evading the questions we're asking, whereas he always tries to answer them," she told The Guardian.

"The response from our benches was a sort of spontaneous 'no'. I'm not sure we'd respond to many other ministers in that way."

Baroness Lister said she hoped Lord Bates would reconsider his resignation.

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