Starmer urges Prime Minister: “We need to call time on the Tory sleaze scandal”

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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Countries agreed a watered-down climate deal as COP26 ended this weekend. India and China managed to force a last-minute change to the wording of the agreement, committing signatories to “phasing down” rather than “phasing out” the use of coal. The amendment left Alok Sharma in tears. Boris Johnson hailed the final text as a “game-changing agreement” that has “sounded the death knell for coal power”. He claimed there is not much difference between the original text and the amended version as “the direction of travel is pretty much the same”. The Prime Minister added, however, that his reaction was “tinged with disappointment” despite progress made.

Ed Miliband told viewers of the Sunday politics shows that keeping the global warming target of 1.5°C alive is “in intensive care”. He praised Sharma, who he said had been undermined by the actions of his government. In particular, the Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary condemned the decision to cut overseas aid ahead of the summit, pointing out: “We were then saying to other countries ‘please step up on climate finance’ when we were stepping back on aid to poorer countries.”

The sleaze scandal gets its latest instalment today. A little under two weeks after the government whipped Conservative MPs to back an amendment rejecting a 30-day suspension of Tory colleague Owen Paterson (who has since resigned, in case you missed it), the Commons will now vote to rescind that same amendment. Johnson finally showed a hint of contrition when challenged on the rolling sleaze row, which has grown to encompass many Tories and widened into a more general discussion of MPs’ second jobs, yesterday: “I think things could certainly have been handled better, let me put it that way, by me.” The Prime Minister has no doubt noticed the dip in his party’s opinion poll scoring since the Paterson scandal broke. Savanta ComresOpinium and YouGov show, respectively, a six-point lead for Labour, a one-point lead and the opposition party now being tied with the Conservatives.

Labour will table two motions later this week: one on ending paid directorships and commercial consultancies and another calling for the publication of papers relating to Paterson’s lobbying. “We need to call time on the Tory sleaze scandal that has engulfed Johnson’s government,” Keir Starmer said this morning. “Johnson now has a choice: support Labour’s plan to fix this or whip his MPs to vote against a ban on dodgy second jobs for MPs and a cover-up on the Paterson scandal.” The party also picked its candidate for the by-election triggered by Paterson’s resignation.

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