Tory sleaze

Who’s to blame for the Paterson fiasco?

So, how did No. 10, the whips office and the Leader of the House get the Paterson situation so wrong? As I say in the Times this morning, experienced parliamentarians had warned that a Tory-only attempt to change the rules would fail. Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, had suggested a week ago that a Speaker’s Commission could be asked to look at changes to the way the standards committee operated. This would have ensured that things were done on a cross-party basis; and with the Speaker in the chair, no party would have had a majority. But this advice was ignored. One government source

Owen Paterson quits the Commons – what next?

Owen Paterson has resigned as an MP. In a dramatic turn of events, Paterson has in the past 24 hours gone from being spared suspension over a breach of the lobbying rules to facing a fresh vote that many Tories thought he could lose. On hearing the news of the U-turn, Paterson issued a statement saying that he will be stepping down in order to pursue a life ‘outside the cruel world of politics’. He continues to refute the commissioner’s findings against him: I have today, after consultation with my family, and with much sadness decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire. The last two years have been an indescribable

James Kirkup

Paterson resigns. Johnson is diminished

What are the long-term political implications of the government’s clown show over Owen Paterson? My guess is that voters won’t pay too much attention, but MPs certainly will. And that could matter at least as much. Start with the public. Do voters feel angry that their Prime Minister doesn’t play by the rules — written and unwritten — of politics and government? There’s a lot to be angry about, and ripping up the rules against cash-for-lobbying certainly justifies rage. And maybe in time, the idea of the PM as leader of a privileged clique who don’t play by the same rules as the rest of us will indeed prove harmful to

Isabel Hardman

Tory sleaze: How much trouble is Boris Johnson in?

It’s been a dizzying 24 hours for Angela Richardson, who was last night sacked as a junior ministerial aide to Michael Gove, only to get the job back this morning. The reason for this whirlwind? Richardson broke the Tory whip last night by abstaining on the government’s plan to tear up the standards committee regime and put Owen Paterson’s suspension on hold. She said at the time that it was a ‘matter of principle’ for her — but with the U-turn from the government this morning, she found that she was once again on the right side of policy. Tory MPs stopped bothering to defend new policies to their constituents

Katy Balls

No. 10 U-turns on Paterson sleaze row

Less than 24 hours after Tory MPs were ordered to vote to spare Owen Paterson, the government has U-turned. The former minister had been given a one month suspension from the House of Commons by the standards committee over a breach of lobbying rules. No. 10 tried to block his suspension, instead setting up a new committee to overhaul the current disciplinary system.  Speaking in the Commons chamber this morning, Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg said that the government had abandoned the plans, which proposed a committee weighted in favour of Tory MPs. Rees-Mogg said that he accepted there is a ‘strong feeling’ over recent events and said that any reforms to the standards protocol