Disagreements with France over fishing and immigration, the economic and health crisis, the controversial return by plane from neighboring COP26 in Glasgow… Boris Johnson was already piling up trouble internationally. Here he is now in great difficulty at home. The British Prime Minister is under fire after coming to the rescue of a Conservative MP, threatened with sanctions for his lobbying activities. The British leader preferred to support system reform. A position in favor of his own camp, which particularly bothered across the channel.
The facts: Conservative MP breaks pressure rules, side changes rules
The case began with an investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Committee that concluded that MP and former Conservative minister Owen Patterson had repeatedly pressured ministers to defend two firms for which he had served as a paid consultant. Believing this was a “flagrant” violation of lobbying rules, the committee recommended a 30-day suspension of membership of Parliament. The MP appealed the decision, saying the process was “biased” and “unfair”.
Asked about this last Wednesday, Boris Johnson said it was “wrong” to do paid lobbying in the House of Commons. But then he lent his support to reforming the rules to allow any member questioned to defend himself and appeal if necessary.
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His allies in the conservative camp then went even further by introducing an amendment in the House of Commons, calling for his case to be reconsidered and a review of the system of rules governing MPs. The amendment was narrowly adopted by MPs, receiving 250 votes to 232 against, prompting cries of “shame” in the opposition. Labor deputy leader Angela Rayner accused the Conservatives of being “corrupt to the core” and “changing the rules” when it suits them. The government backed down last Thursday, saying the proposed reforms would not apply to Owen Patterson’s case. But the damage was done.
Why is Johnson being specifically targeted?
To counter this controversy, a debate on the code of conduct governing the work of parliamentarians was organized on Monday afternoon in the House of Commons. But Boris Johnson did not participate. Enough to feed the critics a little more.
In Parliament, Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of damaging “democracy” and “giving the green light to corruption”. He denounced “today that he does not even have the decency to defend what he did or apologize.”
Why it matters: The Conservative Party is drowning in scandals
Conservatives are under attack from all angles. Sunday, clear Sunday times With open democracy He noted that nearly all 16 Conservative Party treasurers over the past 20 years have been offered a seat in the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament made up of non-elected members, after increasing their training donations to more than £3 million (€3.5 million). . ). At the start of Monday’s debate, Liberal Democrat lawmaker Wendy Chamberlain said the scandal “was roughly the same stance one would expect from the Moscow Duma or the National People’s Assembly in Beijing.”
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Another inconvenience: On Tuesday, a British MP was singled out for taking a job in a Caribbean tax haven at the same time as his term. The government has already finally been hit by the recent scandal that has highlighted the dangerous links between the circles of power and business, in particular with regard to the awarding of equipment contracts to private companies in the context of the pandemic. In the spring, former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s lobbying activities for bankrupt financial firm Greensell caused major political and financial turmoil in the UK. The case has also fueled regular accusations of favoritism against the Conservative government.
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