Owen Paterson: ‘Tory sleaze scandal has disgraced Parliament’, says Chesterfield’s MP

A ‘Tory sleaze scandal’ has ‘disgraced Parliament and given the green light to corruption’, according to Chesterfield’s Labour MP Toby Perkins.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 12:39 pm
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 12:52 pm

Number 10 initially backed a shake-up of Parliament’s standards watchdog, alongside blocking a 30-day suspension of Conservative MP Owen Paterson for breaking lobbying rules.

But the Government later made a dramatic U-turn – following an outcry from opposition MPs and some Tories as well as many members of the public.

Chesterfield's Toby Perkins was among angry MPs on Wednesday, brandishing cash at the Government in reference to Owen Paterson's paid lobbying.

Mr Paterson resigned as an MP on Thursday, claiming he was ‘totally innocent’ of breaking lobbying rules.

Mr Perkins said: “What Mr Paterson did was found to be a breach by an independent commissioner and by a committee with Tory MPs on it, and so for the Government to attempt to overrule that verdict and absolve their friend is disgraceful.

“The Tories have a big majority and with that majority comes a huge responsibility to operate in a fair way – that is a responsibility that this Government seems to regularly abuse.

“In the face of the wave of public revulsion, the Prime Minister subsequently backed down and Mr Paterson has now resigned, but that shouldn’t alter people’s recognition that this is a Government of people willing to alter the rules to protect their own.

“The last Tory Government was eventually brought down by their sleazy standards and it appears that this one is entirely careless about operating in the same way.”

Mr Perkins added: “I know that my constituents, who are facing rising food prices and energy bills, seeing their benefits reduced or facing significant tax rises, will be angered that Tory politicians are enriching themselves and trying to change the rules while everyone else is struggling.”

Mr Perkins was among angry MPs on Wednesday, brandishing cash at the Government in reference to Mr Paterson’s paid lobbying.

On Friday, Tory Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said backtracking on the ‘mistake’ – to rewrite MPs’ conduct rules – was the ‘grown-up thing to do’.

However, he said it was right for the Government to continue with one part of its proposals – introducing a ‘right of appeal’ for MPs under investigation.

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