Prime Minister Erna Solberg met with the press at the prime minister’s residence after the news that Kjell Ingolf Ropstad will be stepping down as minister and party leader. The reactions to the departure of Ropstad have not been long in coming.
On Saturday, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad resigned as party leader in KrF. He also resigns as Minister of State. At 4:00 pm, Prime Minister Erna Solberg will meet with the press.
Ropstad said that on Friday night he announced to the party leadership at KrF that he wanted to resign as party leader and minister as a result of the tax case.
During today’s press conference, he made it official. Now Prime Minister Solberg is meeting the press.
– Kjell Ingolf Ropstad called me late last night and informed me that he would resign as party leader and also said that he would resign as minister. I have respect and understanding for the situation you are in.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister thanked Ropstad for the good cooperation, good advice and constant leadership during the pandemic.
– I think this is an incredibly sad case, summarized the Prime Minister.
SMK and the Tax Administration
Regarding the tax case, the Prime Minister pointed out that politicians should be careful.
– When we make mistakes, we have to clean up. I perceive that now Ropstad is taking measures to clean up, together with the Tax Administration.
Solberg further explained that SMK has informed Ropstad on how they perceive the regulations.
– But we have also always asked the Minister to communicate with the Tax Administration about his specific case, says Solberg.
She says that SMK’s perception of the tax rules was that they were not clear and easy to understand.
– The perception after the dialogue with the tax authorities and our lawyers was that it was not clear what an additional cost is. Now it’s clear, and then we’re done with it, Solberg said.
Stavanger Aftenblad asked why SMK would apologize in handling. Solberg then replied that they should have written the conclusions of the agreements to avoid misunderstandings.
In October 2020, SMK sent an inquiry to the Tax Administration. They wanted clarity on whether Ropstad should pay taxes to benefit the residence of its prime minister.
In the investigation, SMK wrote that Ropstad pays the rent to the parents. It became crucial for Ropstad to avoid paying taxes for the benefit of the residence of its prime minister.
He never paid a penny, nor did he pay taxes.
Since then, the Tax Administration has stated that if SMK had provided correct information to the Tax Administration, they would have received a completely different answer to the question of whether Ropstad should pay taxes for the Minister’s residence.
Tax authorities: never said Ropstad should avoid taxes
Ropstad: – I have experienced the attention of my fellow players.
– The last 24 hours I have had the opportunity to catch my breath, take a step back, assess the situation of the match, my closest and myself, said Ropstad at his press conference.
– I have experienced the attention of my fellow players in the last few days. I want to thank you for that, he continued.
Aftenposten revealed on Friday that Ropstad took active steps last year to avoid paying taxes on the prime minister’s residence. He said he covered his parents’ household expenses, but never paid a penny.
Thus he avoided a tax bill of 175,000 crowns. Ropstad has admitted and regretted making plans to avoid taxes.
Kjell Ingolf Ropstad (KrF) resigns as party leader and resigns as minister after controversial tax measure
Bollestad assumes the position of minister
Solberg also reported that Olaug Bollestad will take over as Minister of Children and Families.
Formally, Ropstad will resign as Minister of State in an extraordinary Council of Ministers on Monday, where Bollestad will assume as Minister of Children and the Family, while continuing as Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Bollestad has also said that she is ready to lead KrF until they find a new party leader.
– It’s a bad day for many
Liberal leader Guri Melby thanks the outgoing KrF leader and the minister for the government cooperation.
– As the new leader of the party, it has been good to have him as a colleague, both in the daily work with politics, as well as as two parents of young children who will make everyday life work, says Melby in a statement to NTB.
She describes Ropstad as someone who is passionate about KrF politics and is confident that she will continue with it.
– I wish Kjell Ingolf and the family all the best in the future.
Party colleague and Development Aid Minister Dag-Inge Ulstein says it’s a bad day.
– It’s a bad day, for many. Especially for Kjell Ingolf. You have made your decision. I respect you and now I understand your assessment.
Ulstein believes that it would have been very difficult for Ropstad to continue.
– Maybe impossible, he tells NTB.
He believes that KrF must now deal with the crisis, but that the most important thing is to “take care of Kjell Ingolf”.
Ulstein says that Ropstad is a person he values very much, that he is a good friend and an incredibly energetic politician.
Sylvi Listhaug, FRP leader, thinks it is good that Ropstad is resigning now.
– What has arisen in recent days are serious conditions, and I fully understand that you are now choosing to retire. This is a difficult time for both Ropstad and her family.
Now I hope you have peace to make up for it and move on, says Sylvi Listhaug, FRP leader, to VG.
– A bad and difficult day
Former KrF leader Knut Arild Hareide thanks Kjell Ingolf Ropstad after the party leader resigned today.
– I feel like this is a bad and difficult day. But it is more demanding on Kjell Ingolf and the family. He has apologized and said that this should not have happened.
Hareide respects Ropstad’s decision and notes that Ropstad has considered the best for KrF and its loved ones.
– Kjell Ingolf and I have worked closely together during my years at the Storting and I appreciate him very much, as a colleague and friend. We did not agree on the choice of management, but we have maintained good contact and friendship, the former KrF leader tells NTB.
KrF leaders support the decision
Several of Ropstad’s party colleagues have also reacted to his resignation.
Per Sverre Kvinlaug in Agder KrF is not surprised by Ropstad’s decision to resign as party leader and minister.
– When Kjell Ingolf has concluded as he has done, I am sure that his decision is the best for him and for the party, says Kvinlaug to NRK.
KrF veteran Torhild Bransdal has been a parliamentary representative for the past four years.
She describes Ropstad’s departure as sad, but believes it was the right thing to do. The same goes for KrF central board member Karin Kirsti Bakklund Bjørkhaug.
Oluf Maurud, the leader of Innlandet KrF, believes that Ropstad did not have many other options as the case unfolded.
– This shows that he puts the party before himself. I think it’s cool of him to do that, Maurud tells NRK.