Paterson motion passed as Rees-Mogg says backing MP was a “mistake”

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The motion accepting the parliamentary standards commissioner’s report recommending the suspension of Tory MP Owen Paterson, for what the watchdog described as an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules, has been passed.

Following an hour-long parliamentary debate this afternoon, after Tory backbencher Christopher Chope blocked its passage on Monday evening, MPs accepted the report bringing to a conclusion the government’s U-turn on the Paterson row.

The government whipped MPs to back an amendment, put forward by Andrea Leadsom, rejecting a 30-day suspension of Tory Paterson, earlier this month after the MP was found guilty of lobbying on behalf of two companies who paid him £112,000.

After a public backlash, ministers U-turned and the disgraced MP subsequently resigned. The motion passed this afternoon rescinded the controversial amendment, which also proposed an overhaul of the parliamentary standards committee.

Jacob Rees-Mogg admitted today that the government made “a mistake” defending Paterson, claiming: “It was simply the tragedy that afflicted Mr Patterson coloured and clouded our judgement – and my judgement – incorrectly. And it is as simple and as sad as that.”

Paterson, responding to the commissioner and committee’s original ruling earlier this year, said “the manner in which this investigation was conducted undoubtedly played a major role” in the suicide of his wife, who took her life last year.

Theresa May criticised the government’s handling of the scandal. The former Conservative Prime Minister told MPs: “The attempt by right honourable and honourable members of this house, aided and abetted by the government under cover of reform of the process – effectively to clear his name – was misplaced, ill-judged and just plain wrong.”

Paterson’s resignation from parliament has triggered a by-election in his North Shropshire seat. Labour has selected Ben Wood as its candidate, who will be standing against Conservative hopeful Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst.

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