Jacob Rees-Mogg 'dumps' Paterson changes
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In a post on Twitter, Johnson’s former chief of staff encouraged Sir Keir to write to the Electoral Commission in order to root out Johnson’s “illegal donations”. Mr Cummings wrote: “One simple thing even the dud Starmer shd be able to manage today: write to the Electoral Commission demanding that THEY interview those in No10 with knowledge of PM’s illegal donations, incl the infamous wallpaper whatsapp group, with perjury charges for those shown to lie”
In a second tweet, he added: “Yesterday was a preemptive strike by PM on EC & Stone. Tory MPs are just expendable cannon fodder.
“This is about trying to keep secret the coverup earlier this year on his illegal donations & lies to Geidt and the Cabinet Secretary about it all #FOLLOWTHEMONEY”
In his first tweet, Mr Cummings’ references the controversy surrounding the refurbishment of Mr Johnson’s flat earlier this year, with the Electoral Commission launching an inquiry into the payments Johnson took for the renovations.
The watchdog said its probe was necessary because it already believed there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that payments for expensive renovations to Johnson’s Downing Street flat could constitute several offences.
While Johnson claimed he covered the costs “personally”, he did not deny receiving a donation or loan of £58,000 from a Conservative peer and party donor, David Brownlow, to cover the cost despite no record of such a transaction being published.
At the time, Johnson faced calls of “Tory Sleaze”, with Keir Starmer accusing the government of being “mired in sleaze, cronyism and scandal.”
The Tory party has faced further such calls over the last week after MPs voted yesterday to overturn the suspension of Owen Paterson – an issue which Cummings flags in his second tweet.
This came after Mr Paterson was found to have broken lobbying rules during his £110,000 a year private sector work.
Tory MPs argued that the process in which Mr Paterson was investigated was unfair.
Independent parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone had recommended that Mr Paterson be suspended from the House of Commons for thirty days, as a result of the breach.
Tory MPs had called for a shake-up of the standards watchdog and won the vote thanks to government backing.
But after suffering a backlash, the Government has since reversed its position, with Leader of the House Jacob Rees Mogg saying that the overhaul “should not be based on a single case”.
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Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Rees Mogg said: “While there is a very strong feeling on both sides of the House that there is a need for an appeals process, there is equally a strong feeling that this should not be based on a single case or apply retrospectively.
“I fear last night’s debate conflated an individual case with the general concern. This link needs to be broken.
“Therefore I and others will be looking to work on a cross-party basis to achieve improvements in our system for future cases. We will bring forward more detailed proposals once there have been cross-party discussions.”
This is the first time since the second world war that the Commons has rejected a recommendation from its own disciplinary committee to suspend an MP for misconduct.
A committee is now being set up to consider a new system for disciplining MPs, and to decide whether Mr Paterson’s case needs to be reviewed.
Opposition parties have so far said they will boycott it.
Writing in the Guardian, Sir Keir said: “I am sick of people skirting around calling this out for what it is: corruption. Paterson was receiving money from a private company to ask questions on its behalf.
“But the rot starts at the top. We have a prime minister whose name is synonymous with sleaze, dodgy deals and hypocrisy.
“This is the man who allows his ministers to breach with impunity the codes that govern public life; who thinks it should be one rule for him and his chums, another for everyone else.
“With his every action he signals to his MPs: do what you like. There are no consequences.”
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