Boris Johnson faces calls for public inquiry into Tory sleaze allegations following Owen Paterson row

MPs are considering how to clean-up Westminster following the Owen Paterson row

The Prime Minister will face calls for a public inquiry into allegations of Tory sleaze as MPs consider how to clean-up Westminster following the Owen Paterson row.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister should apologise to the nation and “clean out the filthy Augean stable he has created”.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • The Commons will spend three hours hearing an emergency debate on the situation, despite ministers seeking to dismiss the row as a “storm in a teacup”.
  • The Liberal Democrats, who secured the debate, have called for a statutory public inquiry into sleaze and corruption allegations.
  • The inquiry, which would have the power to summon witnesses and take evidence under oath, would examine not only the Paterson row but also the awarding of coronavirus contracts, whether Mr Johnson’s holidays in villas provided by friends were properly declared, and how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was funded.
  • A debate was granted last week by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle following Tory attempts to block an immediate 30-day suspension for Mr Paterson over an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules.
  • Conservative MPs were ordered instead to back the creation of a Tory-led committee to look again at Mr Paterson’s case and the whole standards system. But after a backlash the Government performed a U-turn and Mr Paterson subsequently quit as an MP, leaving what he called the “cruel world of politics”.

What’s been said

Sir Keir will lead the debate for Labour, but Mr Johnson is expected to hand Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg the job of representing the Government.

Boris Johnson needs to attend this debate, answer for his mistakes, apologise to the country and take action to undo the damage he has done,” Sir Keir said.

“The country is yet to hear a word of contrition over his attempts to create one rule for him and his friends and another for everyone else. He must now come to the House and say sorry.”

Background

Reports at the weekend suggested the Speaker may put forward his own proposals for reform of the standards process in an effort to take some of the increasingly bitter politics out of the row.

Ahead of the emergency debate, Sir Keir said the Prime Minister must publicly confirm that former Cabinet minister Mr Paterson will not be nominated for a peerage.

Downing Street sources have indicated there is no intention for Mr Paterson to be given a seat in the Upper Chamber.

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