UK government flip-flop on change in corruption rules as lawmaker resigns – .

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UK government flip-flop on change in corruption rules as lawmaker resigns – .


Owen Paterson leaves Winfield House during US President Donald Trump’s State visit to London, Britain June 4, 2019. REUTERS / Peter Nicholls / File Photo

  • Prime Minister’s party abandons plan to change parliamentary oversight system
  • Lawmaker at the center of the lobbying row resigns
  • Opposition parties accuse government of corruption
  • PM faces the wrath of his own lawmakers

LONDON, Nov. 4 (Reuters) – The government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an embarrassing U-turn on Thursday on plans to overhaul the parliamentary anti-corruption system, with the lawmaker whose case had caused the departure of his position.

Faced with his party’s discontent and headlines accusing the prime minister and his Conservative administration of being “sordid”, the government said it would reconsider the proposals it had submitted to parliament the day before.

Backed by Johnson, Tory lawmakers narrowly voted to end a proposed 30-day parliamentary suspension of Owen Paterson, a former cabinet minister, who had been convicted by Parliament’s standards watchdog for having repeatedly lobbied for two companies, which paid him nearly three times his annual salary. salary.

Instead, they pushed through a proposal to delay the suspension and set up a new committee to review his case and the broader system of investigating lawmakers. Read more

But with growing outrage from opposition politicians and some members of its own party, the government has backed down and said there would be another vote on the proposed suspension. Paterson then announced that he was leaving “the cruel world of politics.”

“The past two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and I,” Paterson, whose wife killed herself last year, said in a statement. “I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of. “

Johnson said he was “very sad” that Paterson stepped down as lawmaker, adding that “it must have been a very difficult decision but I can understand why … he decided to put his family first.”

Before the government’s flip-flop, a number of conservative politicians criticized their party’s handling of the dispute, which commentators said had a bad image of the prime minister.

“This is one of the most uninspiring episodes I have seen in my 16 years as an MP,” said Mark Harper, a Tory lawmaker who rebelled against his party to oppose to plans.

Another Tory politician, Peter Bone, said his office was vandalized because he voted for the changes.

‘DAMAGE MOMENT’

Previously, Jonathan Evans, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and former head of UK’s domestic spy service MI5, said blocking a lawmaker’s suspension was “deeply at odds” with the traditions of British democracy.

The vote was “a very serious and damaging moment for Parliament,” Evans said in a speech in London.

Johnson has recently faced other charges of wrongdoing, including plans for party donors to secretly contribute to a luxury renovation of his Downing Street apartment, and the government has awarded big contracts for medical equipment protection to those who have ties to those in power.

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer accused the government of corruption and said Johnson was “leading his troops through the sewers”.

“Boris Johnson must now apologize to the whole country for this crude attempt to cover up his friend’s crime,” Starmer said. “It’s not the first time he’s done this but it must be the last. “

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University in London, said the corruption allegations could be deeply damaging, citing the sordid feuds that ravaged the last days of John Major’s Tory government in the mid-1990s.

However, Bale said the Tories have maintained their lead over the opposition in recent polls despite criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the rising cost of living.

“What happened this week will do him no favor,” he said. “But for now, I wouldn’t bet too much money that we’ve hit some sort of tipping point. “

Reportage by Andrew MacAskill, Michael Holden, Kylie MacLellan and Alistair Smout; Edited by Jonathan Oatis and Giles Elgood

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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