Home Somerset rules MEPs support shift in standards as Theresa May warns of ‘damage’ from sleaze row

MEPs support shift in standards as Theresa May warns of ‘damage’ from sleaze row


Theresa May warned of the “damage” to all MPs and Parliament from Westminster’s sleaze row, as Boris Johnson’s turnaround in standards was approved.

The former prime minister said it was clear that former MP Owen Paterson had broken lobbying rules and that MPs’ ‘government aided and abetted’ attempt to save him was “misplaced, misjudged and simply false “.

Ms May also suggested that dropping the controversial draft revision of standards that triggered the crisis was a “step in the right direction”.

But she warned that such a move “would not repair the damage” caused by the government‘s botched attempt to delay the parliamentary suspension of former Tory cabinet minister Paterson.

The motion, passed unanimously on Tuesday, implemented a government reversal on the Paterson line.

He repealed the so-called Leadsom Amendment, which sought to establish a review of the MP’s standards investigation process with the aim of delaying Mr. Paterson’s suspension.

He also endorsed the Commons Standards Committee report that would have suspended Mr Paterson from Parliament for 30 days had he remained a Member of Parliament.

He resigned as a Tory MP for North Shropshire after the government backed down in its attempt to delay his suspension and reform the normalization process.

An attempt to quietly endorse the Commons Standards Watchdog report on Mr Paterson’s behavior was foiled on Monday evening as veteran Tory Sir Christopher Chope objected to the move.

Ms. May told the Commons: “Let’s be clear, this is not a political party issue. Damage has been done to all Members of Parliament and to Parliament as a whole. “

On the report on Mr Paterson’s actions, Tory MP Ms May said: “I think the conclusion was clear and fair, Owen Paterson broke the rules on paid advocacy and attempt by members of this House, aided and encouraged by the government, under the guise of reforming the process to effectively whitewash his name was misplaced, misjudged and just plain wrong. ”

Owen Paterson broke lobbying rules (Victoria Jones / PA)

Ms May said: “It would be a mistake to think that because someone broke the rules the rules were wrong.

“The rule of paid advocacy is old.

“The problem arose because there was an attempt to effectively release a member of the House at the time.

“It goes against the rules on paid advocacy and the processes established by this House.”

The Maidenhead MP urged the government to consider recommendations on how to strengthen the rules on MPs standards proposed by a committee in 2018. Ms. May said the broader questions regarding the service MPs provide to their constituents came under “their electorate”.

The Palace of Westminster (Aaron Chown / PA)
Ms May said Parliament was damaged by the sleaze row (Aaron Chown / PA)

Opening the debate on the standards, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed “regret” and told MPs that an amendment to save Paterson was a “mistake”.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think it is just the tragedy that afflicted Mr (Owen) Paterson has colored and clouded our judgment, and my judgment, incorrectly and it is so simple and so sad. that.”

He added: “I regret that the amendment confused an individual case with more general concerns, that was a mistake.”

But SNP Commons chief Pete Wishart has suggested Mr Rees-Mogg and Prime Minister Mr Johnson should consider their positions.

Mr Wishart criticized the “malicious and malicious attempt to undermine and smear” Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.

It was Ms Stone’s investigation that found Mr Paterson had violated the House of Commons code of conduct by putting pressure on ministers and officials at two companies paying him more than £ 100,000 a year.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng apologized to Ms Stone on Monday after publicly speculating about her future.

Mr Wishart said: “She shouldn’t consider her position, the House leader should consider her position just like the Prime Minister, because they had to undermine the Standards Commissioner for the stupid stupid plan to work for them.” Of course, it didn’t work at all.

Conservative Sir Christopher, MP for Christchurch, said he blocked the motion on Monday evening because it was important that the Commons “openly discuss this issue”.

“I have no regrets about this,” he added.

Sir Christopher Mug (AP)
Sir Christopher Chope blocked a motion to adopt the Watchdog report without debate (PA)

Mr Paterson’s wife Rose took her own life last year and the former MP had suggested that was in part due to the investigation against him.

Chris Bryant of the Labor Party, who chairs the Standards Committee, said he believed the Paterson family had ‘been through hell’ in the past year and said: ‘It is a deep regret for me that the parliamentary shenanigans of the past three weeks can only add to this misery.

“This house did him and his family no favors, we should be ashamed of what happened here, but unfortunately Mr. Paterson’s was not the only catalog of bad behavior.

“As countless Conservative MPs have told me, and indeed I would just like to congratulate many of the new Conservative MPs who have shown far greater insight over the past three weeks than some of their colleagues. For a long time, the way the government and the Prime Minister have handled this has been shameful and it has brought the House into disrepute. “

Mr Bryant said of the government’s behavior: “Simply wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and the government knows it.”