Boris Johnson officially U-turns on controversial standards overhaul

Embarrassed Boris Johnson officially U-turns on ‘mistake’ plan to overhaul Parliament’s anti-sleaze watchdog after it sparked major standards and second jobs row and resignation of ex-minister

  • Commons motion will unpick amendment forced through Parliament by PM 
  • Would have overhauled standards system and dropped punishment for Paterson 
  • He resigned as Tory MP after PM dropped his support in face of widespread fury

Boris Johnson will officially scrap his controversial plan to overhaul Parliament’s standards watchdog next week after it sparked a furious sleaze row that has engulfed his government.

Ministers will formally bring forward a motion to unpick the amendment passed last week that sought to reprieve Owen Paterson from punishment for lobbying for firms paying him £100,000. 

The motion will rescind the Leadsom amendment that Mr Johnson whipped Tories to support last Wednesday, sparking the crisis. 

It will also scrap plans for a proposed new standards committee after opposition parties said they would not take part, undermining its credibility.

Downing Street said it would allow for the Commons to approve the standards report, while also recognising Owen Paterson is no longer an MP and cannot be censured.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: ‘We recognise the strong views on this particular point and having listened to those again (on Monday) we will table a motion …  for next week to formalise the change of approach by unpicking the amendment.’

But while the spokesman admitted the move had been a ‘mistake’, he joined the PM in refusing to say sorry for the debacle, instead offering only ‘regret’ at what happened.  

The motion will rescind the Leadsom amendment that Mr Johnson (pictured today) whipped Tories to support last Wednesday, sparking the crisis.

In the bitter aftermath of the row, Mr Paterson announced he was quitting as MP for North Shropshire after 24 years

In the bitter aftermath of the row, Mr Paterson announced he was quitting as MP for North Shropshire after 24 years, as an attempt by the Government to delay his punishment by ripping up the current standards system failed when opposition parties refused to offer their support.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid today admitted he felt ‘regret’ for supporting last week’s motion to change the system.

He told Sky News: ‘Look, I voted for that motion, I do regret it, because I think it was wrong for me to conflate the Owen Paterson case with the right of an appeal.’

The Health Secretary said he hoped the issue was ‘settled’, with the Government due to bring forward a motion to rescind the result and ‘accept the Owen Paterson report in full’.

Mr Johnson’s sleaze woes deepened today amid another wave of allegations and claims a Tory vice-chair has quit in protest.

The PM is believed to have dropped plans for a Cabinet away-day at Chequers tomorrow as the frenzy threatens to engulf the party.

The Conservatives have confirmed that Andrew Bowie, tipped as a rising star, has stepped back from his vice-chair role. A spokeswoman insisted he wanted to focus on his Scottish constituency, but he has reportedly told friends he is ‘unable to support the government’ in the wake of the Owen Paterson debacle.

The crisis shows no sign of easing today, with former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox coming under more fire over his £1million-a-year legal work.

Footage has emerged appearing to show the eminent QC representing the British Virgin Islands at a fraud commission by video-link from his Commons office.

Labour has demanded a standards probe, while ministers have admitted that using parliamentary facilities for work is against the rules.

Mr Johnson must also run the gauntlet of a press conference at 4.30pm this evening, where he had been hoping to focus on progress at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

Source: Read Full Article