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British Lord Resigns After Arriving Late to Work in Most British Resignation Ever

Sure, we have stereotypes that say the British are sticklers for protocol, but Michael Bates took that a step further in tendering his resignation to the House of Lords because he was tardy.

As reported by The Washington Post, Lord Bates arrived late to the House of Lords, where he served as international development minister. Thereafter, it took less than 60 seconds for Bates to publically announce to his peers that this disgrace was such that he could not possibly stay in Parliament.

Here’s what Lord Bates said, instead of blaming the tube or a lost cab driver or his alarm clock or, I don’t know, apologizing without explanation and counting on five years of service to muddle through any stern, disapproving glances from the peanut gallery:

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.

During the five years in which it’s been my privilege to answer questions from this dispatcher 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 am 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.

In this case, the peanut gallery of Lords—and if you’ve never watched British Parliament in action, you really must, because they’re delightfully vocal—was shocked by Bates’ resignation. Many seemed to take it as a joke at first—because who publically resigns for being late—while other Barons and Baronesses and such shouted “No!” in dismay and tried to bodily grab the poor man and return him to the chamber of his shame.

Baroness Smith of Basildon was kind enough to go the “everybody makes mistakes” route:

After Bates’s’ resignation, Baroness Smith of Basildon interrupted the beginning of another speech to say: “An apology from Lord Bates is perfectly sufficient. It was a minor discourtesy of which any of us can be guilty of on occasion.”

Meanwhile, Baroness Lister, to whom Bates apologized, wants him to reconsider the resignation. “Of all the ministers I’d want to cause to resign, he’d be the last.”

Even in a kingdom that likes its etiquette, Lord Bates’ hasty exit seems to have baffled and intrigued the public. Is there some other motive than tardiness that motivated Bates’ actions? Could he have just finally had enough with the House of Lords, because as our Marykate Jasper pointed out, “If you shared your political job with Andrew Lloyd Webber, wouldn’t you?” (That’s Baron Lloyd-Webber to us peasants, and for what it’s worth, he retired from the House of Lords in October.) Will Lord Bates be back? Or has he just achieved an “I’m out” moment that will go down in history?

Why do I feel like I’m in the beginning of an episode of Poirot?

(via The Washington Post, image: screengrab, ITV)

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