Boris Johnson: Lindsay Hoyle discusses sleaze debate
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The deputy Labour leader claimed Mr Johnson only cared about “his own self-interest” and lashed out at him for steering clear of the Commons. MPs are this afternoon debating standards in public life in the wake of attempts by Conservatives to change parliamentary disciplinary procedure last week.
Tories attempted to block an immediate 30-day suspension for MP Owen Paterson over an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules.
Fresh questions have also been raised on 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.
Mr Johnson is missing the debate due to a long-planned visit to an NHS hospital trust in Northumberland.
In his absence, the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay will open the debate for the Government.
Criticising the Prime Minister, Ms Rayner said: “It is a measure of the man that Boris Johnson is running scared from Parliament today and is running away from debate and scrutiny.
“He never takes responsibility for his actions.
“He only ever cares about his own self-interest.
“They are not qualities of a leader or Prime Minister.”
Mr Paterson faced disciplinary action after lobbying on behalf of the firm Randox, who paid him £100,000 a year.
Mr Johnson whipped MPs to reject the findings of the standards committee that recommended a 30-day suspension from Parliament and instead introduce a new appeals procedure that would allow Mr Paterson a chance to clear his name.
Mr Rayner described the Prime Minister’s actions as ” defending corruption”.
She said: “Randox was awarded over £500million in Covid contracts without a tender or an open process.
“Let’s call this what it is – corruption.”
Today is not the first time Mr Johnson has been accused of leaving London to miss politically difficult debates.
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When he was Foreign Secretary he took a trip to Afghanistan to avoid a vote on a third Heathrow runway.
He had previously vowed to his constituents he would “lie in front of bulldozers” to prevent an additional take-off zone.
His trip to Afghanistan meant he did not need to vote against the Government’s decision to back the runway.
While missing today’s debate, the Prime Minister today said he believe it was “very important” to ensure there were high standards for MPs.
“Unfortunately I can’t be there because I had a long-standing engagement,” he said.
“We are going to hold MPs to account.
“MPs should not break the rules.
“If there is anything positive to come out of the whole thing it is that as far as I can make out the Speaker is determined to try to move us all forward with a system whereby we have a cross-party approach, which is what we were trying to achieve last week.”
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