Senior Tories ‘questioning PM’s judgement’ over sleaze crisis – live

Related video: Owen Paterson resigns as MP instead of facing fresh vote on suspension

Senior Tory MPs questioned Boris Johnson’s judgment last night, after he was forced into a humiliating U-turn during yet another “sleaze” storm following his attempt to save a “friend and colleague” from suspension while trying to rip up conduct rules.

Owen Paterson, the former Tory minister, resigned hours later, saying he wanted to leave the “cruel world of politics”. He had been found to have breached paid lobbying rules.

In a further blow to Mr Johnson, it has since emerged that the same standards watchdog his business secretary suggested should be sacked over the embarrassing incident, is the very same one set to investigate the PM over claims he used Tory donor money to refurbish his Downing Street flat.

Labour has called for an investigation into Kwasi Kwarteng’s remarks about Kathryn Stone, the independent parliamentary commissioner for standards.

Meanwhile, MPs have called an emergency Commons debate for Monday so politicians have a chance to put on record their grievances about this week’s events.

Follow our live coverage below


Brexit red tape knocks £17bn off UK trade with EU in three months

Let’s step away from the sleaze row for a moment and get an update on Brexit.

Brexit swiped £17bn from UK trade with the EU in just three months as new costs and red tape punished businesses, a spending watchdog has found.

Firms also filled in an extraordinary 48 million customs declarations and 140,000 export health certificates in the eight months after the UK left the single market and customs union, the National Audit Office (NAO) finds.

Its report raises the alarm over the government shelving import controls, warning it could face action for not “complying with international trading rules” – while UK exporters are put at a “disadvantage”, reports our deputy political editor Rob Merrick.

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 09:22


Lidington: PM ‘damaged MPs’ reputation’ and risks losing support in future

A former leader of the House of Commons said the Owen Paterson row has “damaged politicians’ reputation”.

Sir David Lidington cited “a pretty appalling set of misjudgments” for the embarrassing mishap, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the affair has “weakened the government”.

He also said it would likely make it harder for Boris Johnson to win support from backbench MPs on potentially unpopular measures in future.

“If you ask your troops to march through the lobby on something like this and which they don’t think is right and then you U-turn on it, it’s going to be more difficult next time around,” he said.

Former Tory MP Sir David Lidington


Sam Hancock5 November 2021 09:03


Minister did not read Owen Paterson report in full – despite voting to save him

Adam Forrest is back with this:

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has admitted he did not read the report which found Owen Paterson found he broke lobbying rules in an “egregious case of paid advocacy”.

“I actually haven’t read the report,” the minister – who voted with the government on Wednesday – told BBC Breakfast.

Asked why he voted to save Mr Paterson if he had not read the report, the minister added: “I’ve looked at the report, I haven’t gone into the detail.”

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:45


Tories lose and Labour gain in latest opinion poll

On that note, here is the latest opinion poll following the Owen Paterson scandal.

While the Tories still hold a narrow lead, the party is losing points after this week.

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:36


Govt ‘can’t be complacent’ amid sleaze allegations – Zahawi

Let’s stick with the education secretary for now, after he said the government cannot be complacent in the face of perceptions of sleaze.

Asked on LBC about opinion polling following the Owen Paterson row, Nadhim Zahawi said: “I take from it that we can’t be complacent, that it was right to come back to parliament and say we made a mistake.

“I think actually people, listeners, participants in polls, will understand that it is only human when you know you’ve made a mistake to come back and say we made a mistake and we’re going to correct it.

“And that we want a fairer system of appeals. They know that because it’s right in other walks of life and other sectors of the economy.”

Mr Zahawi added: “So I think it’s the right thing to do, and of course, the really important poll would be the general election.”

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:33


Watch: Paterson vote ‘damaging moment’ for politics, warns sleaze watchdog

Owen Paterson vote ‘very serious and damaging moment’ for politics, warns sleaze watchdog chief.mp4

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:27


Boris Johnson’s U-turn showed ‘character’, claims minister

Our politics reporter Adam Forrest has the following to say about Zahawi’s media rounds this morning:

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said it was a “mistake” for the government to conflate Owen Paterson’s case with an attempt to change conduct rules – but claimed Boris Johnson’s U-turn on the issue showed “character”.

He told LBC: “When you make a mistake, I’d much rather have a government and a prime minister and the chief whip who says, ‘Hold on a second, let’s go back, because I think we’ve made a mistake here’.

“That makes me much more confident of the character of the people leading this country than people who would have just ploughed on ahead regardless.”

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:16


Zahawi denies Paterson scandal brings into questions PM’s judgement

More from Zahawi now, after the education secretary denied the Owen Paterson scandal called into question his boss’ judgment.

“I think actually it says that the prime minister, when wanting to be following a process that makes the system fairer … wanted to do that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And very quickly realising that actually that’s one thing that we should pursue on a cross-party basis and we’ll come forward with proposals, and I hope, we can sort of set our politics aside and create a fairer system, because right of appeal, I think, is important, and your listeners will see that as important.

“Because, in any case, and I don’t want to get into specifics, but in any case, there should be a right of appeal.”

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:10


‘Not true’ PM launched ‘pre-emptive strike’ on Stone, says Zahawi

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said it is “absolutely not true” to suggest Boris Johnson aimed to launch a “pre-emptive strike” on standards commissioner Kathryn Stone ahead of a potential investigation into the initial financing of the decoration of his Downing Street flat.

The allegation had been made by the PM’s former top aide Dominic Cummings, in a series of tweets as No 10 was bombarded with allegations of sleaze and anger.

However, speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today show this morning, the education secretary rubbished the claims and stressed it was “important” to remember that “parliament as the legislative chamber of our country has absolutely the right to look at and improve the system”.

Mr Zahawi said the issue of the flat had been looked at by Mr Johnson’s own ministerial standards adviser Lord Geidt “and the prime minister was found not to have broken any ministerial code”.

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:08


Labour demands probe into Kwarteng’s comments on Stone

Some more detail on the news Angela Rayner has called for a probe into Kwasi Kwarteng.

The cabinet minister suggested that parliamentary commissioner for standards Kathryn Stone should “consider her position” in the wake of the Owen Paterson debacle.

But, Labour’s deputy leader Ms Rayner has written to Boris Johnson’s ethics adviser calling for an investigation into his comments, claiming they may have breached the ministerial code – as well as being “a rotten way for anybody to behave”.

In a letter to Lord Geidt, Ms Rayner suggested Mr Kwarteng’s comments amounted to bullying. “For the business secretary to use this entirely corrupt process to bully the independent Parliamentary Commissioner is disgusting.”

Sam Hancock5 November 2021 08:01

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