Standards chief should quit, Tory minister suggests – follow live

Labour accuses Boris Johnson of rewriting parliamentary rules amid sleaze row

The parliamentary standards commissioner should quit after MPs voted to overhaul the way sleaze probes are handled, a cabinet minister has suggested.

Despite Kathryn Stone’s insistence she plans to serve her full term, Kwasi Kwarteng said this morning: “I think it’s difficult to see what the future of the commissioner is, given the fact that we’re … overturning and trying to reform this whole process.”

Yesterday’s vote was described by one Conservative as “a dark day for integrity” as Labour accused Boris Johnson of “wallowing in sleaze”.

MPs voted by a slim margin to create a new body that would allow for an appeals process, though some 100 Tories refused to back it. It followed the standards committee’s recommendation that Owen Paterson, the Conservative MP, be suspended for having conducted paid lobbying of the government.

Mr Paterson claims the probe was shoddy and that officials had failed to interview witnesses he proposed. He said he would now have the chance to clear his name after “two years of hell”.


Chair of standards committee defiant following vote

Chris Bryant has insisted the standards committee will continue its work and is set to meet next Tuesday.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 09:27


Paterson a victim of standards procedure, Kwarteng claims

Owen Paterson was a “victim” of standards procedures, the business secretary has said.

Speaking on LBC, Kwasi Kwarteng was asked if Wednesday’s votes marked a return to Tory sleaze, and said: “I don’t think it was that at all.

“I mean, if you look at what Owen went through, he was a victim, if you like, of a process, or he was involved in a process where he didn’t have a right of appeal.

“I’m sure in the end people will agree, MPs across the House will agree, that some form of right of appeal is a good idea, and I’m sure that we’ll be able to reform the system.”

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 09:17


Boris Johnson’s Brexit demand is impossible, says EU vice president

The EU has flat-out rejected a British demand to end any role for European court judges in Northern Ireland, writes Jon Stone.

Speaking on Wednesday evening the European Commission’s vice president Frans Timmermans said it was “extremely well-known in London” that the demand to ditch the European Court of Justice could not be met.

UK Brexit minister Lord Frost has said the ECJ should be replaced with an independent arbitration panel and that it can have no role settling disputes in Northern Ireland.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 09:07


Government accused of ‘bullying standards watchdog out of job’, after minister questions her future

Boris Johnson’s government has been accused of attempting to “bully” the parliamentary standards commissioner Kathryn Stone out of her job after a cabinet minister said she should consider her position, writes Adam Forrest.

Labour said it was “appalling” for the government to question the future of the standards watchdog after Conservative MPs vote to save Owen Paterson from a 30-day suspension and establish a new, Tory-led committee to review the standards system.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng appeared to back Mr Paterson’s own call for Ms Stone to “consider her position” on Wednesday – making it clear the government wanted an overhaul of the standards system.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 08:48


Labour piling on the pressure this morning

Senior members of the Labour Party are attempting to pile pressure on the government over its sleaze plans this morning.

Anneliese Dodds, the chair of the party, told Times Radio it was a “stitch-up”.

Labour, along with the Lib Dems and SNP, has said it will not send MPs to sit on the new Tory-led standards body.

Ms Dodds said: “This is extremely damaging to public trust in parliament and Labour instead wants to be building up that trust, not knocking it down.”

Meanwhile, Chris Bryant, who chairs the current standards committee, compared Boris Johnson’s move to Russian corruption, calling it a “perversion of justice”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not what we do in this country – it’s what they do in Russia when a friend or a foe is suddenly under the cosh in the courts.”

Mr Bryant added: “How could you possibly change the rules without cross-party agreement? The government has created a rod for its own back here.”

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 08:29


Full story: Parliament’s sleaze watchdog chief should quit, says unrepentant Owen Paterson

Conservative MP Owen Paterson has called on the parliamentary standards commissioner to quit after his party saved him from suspension over the watchdog’s ruling that he broke lobbying rules, writes Adam Forrest.

Boris Johnson’s government has been accused of “corruption” after protecting Mr Paterson from a 30-day suspension and establish a new, Tory-led committee to review the standards system.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 08:10


Kwarteng says standards commissioner should consider her position

Kwasi Kwarteng has suggested the parliamentary standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, should consider quitting in the wake of yesterday’s vote to set up a new sleaze body.

Ms Stone has said she intends to serve out her current term.

The business secretary, asked if Ms Stone should quit, told Sky News: “I think it’s difficult to see what the future of the commissioner is, given the fact that we’re reviewing the process, and we’re overturning and trying to reform this whole process, but it’s up to the commissioner to decide her position.

“It’s up to her to do that. I mean, it’s up to anyone where they’ve made a judgment and people have sought to change that, to consider their position, that’s a natural thing, but I’m not saying she should resign.”

Asked why the government had only launched its plan to change the sleaze rules now, and not prior to Owen Paterson’s case being decided, Mr Kwarten said “we’ve been talking about this for years”.

He insisted: “We’ve been talking about holding MPs to account, having the highest standards in public life, ways in which we can improve those standards and make people more accountable.

“We’ve been talking about these sorts of things for many years now, and it so happens that yesterday, we passed a vote, a narrow vote, I think, in favour of actually trying to get a more rigorous process where people could have a right of appeal, and that’s what my understanding of what happened yesterday in parliament was all about.”

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 08:00


Paterson calls for resignation of people who recommended his suspension

Owen Paterson has hit out anew at the parliamentary standards committee’s recommendation he be suspended.

Mr Paterson, a former cabinet minister, was found to have engaged in paid lobbying of the government.

But he told The Daily Telegraph those responsible for the committee’s recommendation should resign.

He said: “Sadly they have not done a good job and come up with a rotten report which is full of inaccuracies … [They] all have to go.”

Mr Paterson has claimed he was treated unfairly by the probe, which he said declined to call 17 witnesses he had provided to support his case.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 07:41


Tory MPs vote to tear up sleaze rules after Conservative ex-minister found guilty of paid lobbying

Catch up on what happened last night…

A series of senior Conservatives have disowned Boris Johnson’s attempt to neuter parliament’s sleaze watchdog in a move which anti-corruption experts branded “a shocking blow to democracy in the UK”, writes Andrew Woodcock.

Mr Johnson secured an 18-vote majority in the Commons to prevent the suspension of a Conservative MP who breached parliament’s code of conduct and create a new Tory-dominated committee to dictate changes to the way standards allegations are investigated.

But more than 100 Tories did not vote and 13 defied a three-line whip to oppose the move, including Nigel Mills, who told The Independent it was “a dark day for integrity in our political system”.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 07:32


Welcome to our politics coverage for Thursday, 4 November

Good morning. Today we’ll be covering all the latest in the sleaze row now enveloping Westminster, as well as the next stage of Brexit negotiations.

Jon Sharman4 November 2021 07:31

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