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MP Standards 1) Senior MPs question Prime Minister’s judgment over Paterson

“Senior Tories were questioning Boris Johnson’s judgment last night after he was forced to abandon efforts to save a former minister who broke lobbying rules. In a humiliating U-turn, the Prime Minister dropped a bid to prevent Owen Paterson being suspended from Parliament for lobbying on behalf of two firms which paid him more than £500,000. The former Cabinet minister resigned hours later, saying he wanted to leave behind the ‘cruel world of politics’… The grassroots Tory website Conservative Home warned the scandal was in danger of entering ‘Barnard Castle territory’ [the Dominic Cummings lockdown-busting row] in terms of reputational damage to the Government.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister’s bruising defeat over standards reform angers Tories – FT
  • Johnson’s ‘leadership in doubt’ after row – Daily Express
  • He’s accused of damaging trust as former minister resigns – The Times
  • Bone reveals office has been vandalised – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: “My children have asked me to leave politics altogether.” Paterson quits as an MP. His full statement.

MP Standards 2) Johnson pushes ahead with plans to overhaul rules

“Boris Johnson is to push ahead with plans to shake up the rules for MPs who are accused of wrongdoing, despite the resignation of Owen Paterson. Under the plans MPs found guilty of misconduct would have the right to challenge the decision before an expert panel including a High Court judge before any sanctions could be imposed. Despite Labour’s opposition to the plan yesterday the party is likely to co-operate to bring in the new system. Last night Tory sources claimed that Labour had been sounded out about participating in the new form of standards committee before Wednesday’s vote. They said that through the “usual channels” of the whips’ offices the party had indicated that even though it would vote against the government amendment, it would not boycott the committee that was due to consider the arrangements.” – The Times

  • Prime Minister could face fresh investigation over luxury flat refurbishment – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Government accused of attempt to undermine standards regulator – The Guardian
  • Richardson reinstated as Gove’s aide 14hrs after being sacked – Daily Mail
  • We made a mistake, admits minister – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

  • Ludicrous own goal proves need for calm – Chris Bryant MP, The Times

>Today: ToryDiary: The Paterson fallout. If your plan depends on Labour’s co-operation, might it not be a good idea to be sure that you have it?

MP Standards 3) ‘Anti-sleaze’ candidate could get free run as Tories face three by-elections

“Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party may agree to allow an independent “anti-sleaze” candidate to have a clear run at the by-election triggered by Owen Paterson’s resignation. Mr Paterson’s North Shropshire seat is considered a safe Conservative constituency, with the party having a majority of nearly 23,000 in the 2019 general election. He had been its MP since 1997. No date has yet been set set for the by-election, but a Labour source told the BBC it would be “sensible idea” for opposition parties not to split the vote. However, a Lib Dem source told the broadcaster: “The technicalities of having an independent candidate that opposition parties get behind are, frankly, a complete nightmare.” It is one of three by-elections the Conservative Party will have to contest in the coming months, alongside votes caused by the deaths of Sir David Amess and James Brokenshire.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Abandoned by Johnson, Paterson resigned within hours – The Times
  • ‘Absolute madness’: circus around an MP that riled the Commons – The Guardian

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson’s plan for dealing with the Paterson case has failed. His choice now is: back down – or risk real damage.

MP Standards 3) Webbe avoids jail after threatening love rival with acid

“An MP has been given a suspended sentence for harassing a love rival by threatening to throw acid in her face and send naked pictures of the woman to her family. Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East since 2019, showed no emotion as she was handed a ten-week jail term suspended for two years and 200 hours’ community service at Westminster magistrates’ court for harassing Michelle Merritt. The victim was a long-term friend of Webbe’s boyfriend, Lester Thomas… He said Webbe “showed little remorse or contrition” and would have been jailed immediately were it not for her previous good character. Webbe, 56, was expelled as a member of the Labour Party after the decision. She had already been barred from representing Labour in the House of Commons but has refused to stand down as an MP indicating her intention to appeal against the verdict.” – The Times

  • Her lawyers were taken aback’ by £17,620 claim for costs and said MP could not pay – Daily Mail
  • Leicester East MP, once a key Labour figure, threatened to ‘use acid’ on friend of her partner – The Guardian

Fraser Nelson: The Tories are behaving like a tired government in its dying days

“So within the space of a few weeks, the Prime Minister went from needling Cameron about lobbying scandals to plunging the Tories into a scandal of his own. Had he sought advice, he would have told Paterson to take his punishment quietly and be back by Christmas. The watchdog could have been reformed a few months later, in consultation with Labour, at a time when neither party would have anyone under investigation. The Johnsonian impulse, this time, ended up crushing the man he intended to help. Thoughtlessness, arrogance, complacency, being tone deaf to public opinion – in the past few days, the Tories have exhibited the traits of an exhausted government in its dying days.” – Daily Telegraph

  • To prevent another scandal, pay MPs more – Sir Peter Bottomly MP, Times Red Box
  • Shambolic handling of the Paterson affair has exposed Tories to ridicule – James Forsyth, The Times

UK talks with France fail to solve post-Brexit fishing dispute

“The UK and France remained locked in a bitter cross-Channel confrontation over fishing licences for French boats in English waters after a meeting between UK Brexit minister Lord David Frost and France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, in Paris on Thursday. The two sides, who cannot even agree on how many licences are in dispute, will continue the discussions next week, according to both governments. France had threatened to impose retaliatory sanctions against the UK — including tighter controls on Europe-bound freight traffic arriving in France — but has suspended the measures while talks continue… Senior French officials accuse the UK government of deliberately targeting France by depriving 200 fishing boats of the full licences to which they are entitled to fish in UK waters and around the Channel Islands under the Brexit agreements, even though more than 10 months have passed since they came into force.” – FT

  • Johnson’s slap down of Macron over fishing ‘helped prevent trade war with France’ – The Sun
  • French accuse the Prime Minister of ‘dragging out’ row – Daily Mail

More:

  • Delayed UK border checks increase risk of smuggling and trade disputes – FT

>Yesterday:

Social media bosses that enable harmful content could soon face prosecution, says Dorries

“Tech bosses may face prosecution by the end of next year if they fail to take down harmful content from their platforms, the culture secretary has warned. Nadine Dorries said yesterday that she would make senior managers of social media platforms criminally liable for extremist and hateful content at least 18 months earlier than planned. Speaking to the parliamentary committee scrutinising the government’s draft Online Safety Bill, Dorries warned Facebook bosses personally that they could face sanctions… The grace period before tech bosses who have failed to comply with regulations can face criminal sanctions would be reduced from two years to between three and six months, Dorries said.” – The Times

>Yesterday: Marc Glendening in Comment: The Online Safety Bill – and the terrifying consequences of making ‘likely psychological harm’ a criminal offence

Zahawi will tell primary schools to include climate change in the curriculum

“Teaching primary pupils that humans harm the planet can be our ‘key weapon’ in the fight against climate change, the Education Secretary claimed yesterday. Nadhim Zahawi is to urge schools to equip children as young as five with ‘the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future’. Teachers will also be encouraged to install bird boxes and other wildlife features on school grounds to boost ‘biodiversity’. For the first time, primary schools will be told to include climate change in the science curriculum. Secondary schools will be shown how to address the topic in other subjects, such as English. The plans were welcomed by the UN last night – although one critic raised fears that fuelling ‘panic’ among pupils could damage their mental health.” – Daily Mail

  • Duke of Edinburgh-style youth award scheme tackles climate change – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Paterson farce has poisoned the well of parliamentary standards reform – Henry Hill, CapX
  • Is Zemmour running or not? – Jonathan Miller, The Spectator
  • Prince Charles has finally won – Will Lloyd, UnHerd
  • Prohibition by other means – James Jeffrey, The Critic