When most people are late, they simply offer an apology and go about their day. But, for one British lord, saying he was sorry wasn’t enough in his eyes. Lord Michael Bates was supposed to be present to answer questions and, when he wasn’t able to arrive on time, he did more than just offer an apology.
A member of the British House of Lords and a junior minister in the UK Department for International Development, Bates arrived a few minutes late to a session on Wednesday.
Upon arriving, he stood and began apologizing profusely, saying, “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 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,” Bates continued.
Although Bates was only minutes late, he added, “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,” Bates stated, and immediately began gathering his belongings and quickly exited the chamber.
His colleagues were stunned by the statement, with some exclaiming “No!” as he spoke and others attempted to stop him from leaving.
After Bates’s statement, Baroness Smith of Basildon interrupted the proceedings to say, “An apology from Lord Bates is perfectly sufficient. It was a minor discourtesy of which any of us can be guilty on occasion.”
According to CNN, Prime Minister Theresa May rejected Bates’s attempt to resign, labeling it “unnecessary.”
“His resignation was refused as it was judged this was unnecessary,” said a spokesperson for May. “As a hard-working and diligent minister, it is typical of his approach that he takes his responsibilities to Parliament so seriously.”
Bates did ultimately decide to maintain his position.