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Cabinet minister declines to defend colleague over attack on standards commissioner
Simon Coveney said the bloc would respond in a “very serious way” if the UK triggered the clause, adding of the overall divorce deal: “If one is being set aside, there is a danger that the other will also be set aside by the EU.”
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg is facing calls to resign over the way the government handled the vote on parliamentary standards last week.
Boris Johnson was forced into a screeching U-turn on plans to rip up the Commons standards regime, having whipped his MPs to back them in a vote that would also have put Owen Paterson’s expected 30-day suspension for lobbying on the back burner.
Some 100 Conservative MPs were part of a swift and vociferous backlash to the scheme, which saw Mr Rees-Mogg at the despatch box less than 24 hours later, rowing back on it. On Sunday Labour said the leader of the House’s position was “untenable”.
Boris Johnson facing prospect of ‘cash for votes’ inquiry after claims Tory whips blackmailed MPs
Boris Johnson is facing the prospect of a “cash for votes” inquiry into whether his party used public money to “blackmail” its own MPs, writes Jon Stone.
During last week’s row over the Commons sleaze watchdog, the Conservative Party whips office was reported to have warned backbenchers their constituency areas would lose funding if they failed to vote with the government.
Now the cabinet secretary Simon Case is being urged to investigate the allegations – which opposition parties say would amount to a misuse of public funds.
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 07:41
‘Genuine rage’ in Tory ranks over PM’s conduct
There is “genuine rage” among the Conservative ranks over the way Boris Johnson has behaved in recent days, according to a former minister.
Tobias Ellwood called for a “reset” of relations between parliament and the government following the debacle over Owen Paterson’s standards breaches.
Mr Johnson must display “leadership, statecraft and vision”, he wrote in The Sun.
Mr Ellwood wrote: “A PM who takes parliament for granted will achieve none of these things and simply end up, not as a big beast, but as just another former occupant of No 10.
“This mess should be used as an opportunity to press the reset button on the entire parliament-government relationship, then regroup. There is genuine rage within the ranks.
“Constituents have been rightly appalled by what they have seen. One system for MPs, another for the public.”
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 07:43
New Tory sleaze row amid report donors who pay £3m get seats in House of Lords
Labour is ramping up the pressure on sleaze amid reports the Conservative Party has been offering House of Lords peerages to wealthy benefactors as a “reward” for large donations, write Ella Glover and Lamiat Sabin.
The report, by The Sunday Times and Open Democracy, says wealthy benefactors “appear to be guaranteed a peerage if they take on the temporary role as the party treasurer and increase their own donations beyond £3 million.”
It also quoted party sources as saying that there is a “tradition” of Conservative prime ministers handing out peerages to the party’s treasurers.
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 08:02
Brexit: Triggering Article 16 would be ‘monumentally stupid’, warns John Major
It would be “colossally stupid” to trigger Article 16 and suspend the Northern Ireland Brexit agreement, John Major has warned.
The former Tory prime minister branded the policy – thought to be under consideration by Boris Johnson – “absurd”.
It comes after Lord Frost, the UK’s Brexit negotiator, said the drastic course of action was “very much on the table and has been since July”, writes Jon Stone.
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 08:21
Cabinet minister dismisses Tory sleaze row as ‘storm in a teacup’
John Major was wrong to say the Owen Paterson affair during the week was “shameful” for the government and made parliament look bad, the environment secretary has said.
George Eustice said he disagreed with the former prime minister on a number of issues, adding “he’s not somebody whose cue I would normally take”. He added that the row over sleaze was a “Westminster storm in a teacup”.
He said: “The point is here, is, last week we tried to introduce an appeals system in the parliamentary standards process. I think there’s a consensus that there should be some sort of appeals system.
“The vote passed but there was obviously unease because other political parties said they weren’t at this stage willing to engage in that process.
“This inevitably ended up being conflated with the Owen Paterson issue so we took the decision not to proceed with that, but indeed to re-engage.”
The motion the government whipped its MPs to support last week itself conflated Mr Paterson’s standards breaches with overhaul of the system, by including in the same amendment a plan to put his suspension on the back burner and the proposed new scheme for tackling wrongdoing.
Pressed on why some 100 MPs failed to back the motion, and on whether the government was “in trouble on this issue” of sleaze, Mr Eustice insisted Boris Johnson’s team did not have a problem with its character.
He said: “I’ve been up here in Glasgow at Cop where some really big decisions are being taken, big, important commitments around the world on a big challenge like climate change.
“I think what we’ve seen is a sort of Westminster storm in a teacup, if I may say so. Yes, we made a mistake in bringing that forward in the way that we did so we withdrew it, but the overall principle, that you should have due process and a right of appeal in these types of situations, I don’t think anybody doubts.”
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 08:47
Jacob Rees Mogg should consider resigning, says Labour
Jacob Rees Mogg should “consider his position” following the botched attempt to overhaul parliament’s standards regime, Labour has said.
Thangam Debbonaire, the leader of the House’s opposite number, said he had displayed an “extraordinary” lack of control during the Owen Paterson saga.
She claimed she would quit if she were in his shoes.
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 08:54
Appeals process already exists in standards regime, says Debbonaire
Thangam Debbonaire has derided the government’s suggestion that no means of redress is available to MPs undergoing a standards investigation.
“In effect” an appeals process already exists, she claimed.
She told Sky’s Trevor Phillps on Sunday: “The standards committee reviews the evidence, they take further evidence if necessary, they can ask the standards commissioner to go back and look again.
“In [Owen Paterson’s] case they considered the evidence overwhelming. So there already is, in effect, an appeals process.
“We can always strengthen the process, of course. For over 300 years all we’ve ever done as parliament is strengthen that process.
“What the prime minister and Jacob Rees Mogg and his chief whip, what they tried to do last week was weaken it.
“The standards committee is, even now, reviewing the code of conduct for MPs, as is quite right and proper they do every parliament.”
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 09:00
Man charged over ‘threats to kill’ MP
An English man arrested in Ireland on suspicion of making threats to kill a British MP has been charged.
The man, 41, from England, was detained in the Cork suburb of Douglas on Saturday.
The arrest was made as gardai executed a search warrant at a residential property.
Jon Sharman7 November 2021 09:19
Eustice dodges question on Kwarteng’s treatment of standards commissioner
George Eustice has brushed aside a question on a cabinet colleague’s treatment of the parliamentary standards commissioner by claiming he was not sure what he actually said.
The environment secretary’s normally fluid responses stumbled somewhat when challenged by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, who asked him whether it had been right for Kwasi Kwarteng to suggest Kathryn Stone, the commissioner, should resign.
Mr Kwarteng made the comments on national television the morning after the vote to scrap the current standards regime. The business secretary suggested Ms Stone was no longer needed and…