Owen Paterson RESIGNS as MP to ‘leave cruel world of politics’ after Tory sleaze row

Jacob Rees-Mogg 'dumps' Paterson changes

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Mr Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, earlier vigorously defended himself in the face of criticism of the vote in the House of Commons, which saw MPs back a Tory amendment calling for a review of Mr Paterson’s case, by 250 votes to 232. In a statement issued subsequently to explain his decision, the 65-year-old said: “I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics.”

Mr Paterson was last week found by the cross-party Standards Committee to have committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules on behalf of two companies for which he was acting as a paid consultant – Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods.

Had the suspension been enforced, he could have faced recall proceedings which may in turn have triggered a by-election.

In his statement he said: “The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me.

“My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned.

“I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety.

“I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system.”

In reference to his wife, who took her life earlier this year, he said: “Far, far worse than having my honesty questioned was, of course, the suicide of my beloved and wonderful wife, Rose.

“She was everything to my children and me. We miss her everyday and the world will always be grey, sad and ultimately meaningless without her.”

Mr Paterson’s statement continued: “The last few days have been intolerable for us.

“Worst of all was seeing people, including MPs, publicly mock and deride Rose’s death and belittle our pain.

“My children have therefore asked me to leave politics altogether, for my sake as well as theirs.

“I agree with them. I do not want my wife’s memory and reputation to become a political football.

“Above all, I always put my family first.”

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He concluded: “This is a painful decision but I believe the right one. I have loved being the MP for North Shropshire and have considered it a privilege to have been elected to serve my constituents for 24 years.

“I would like to thank my staff who have worked for me so loyally over many years.

“I also want to thank those who have stood by me so staunchly. I wish them all the best in that difficult but vital job of being a Member of Parliament.

“I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics. I intend to devote myself to public service in whatever ways I can but especially in the world of suicide prevention.

“At this incredibly difficult time for my family, we ask that the media respects our privacy and lets us grieve my beloved Rose, the best person I ever met.”

“At this incredibly difficult time for my family, we ask that the media respects our privacy and lets us grieve my beloved Rose, the best person I ever met.”

Mr Johnson had supported an attempt by Mr Paterson’s allies to review the sanction until opposition parties refused to take part in a “corrupt” Tory-led committee tasked with the review.

Mr Paterson’s decision means he will not face a fresh vote on the matter.

Mr Johnson’s approach has unsettled many within his own party, with Tobias Ellwood, the MP for Bournemouth East, telling Sky News: “The government may have won the vote but we’ve lost argument and, indeed, some of the moral high ground.”

Moves to overhaul the standards procedure for MPs were not a “pre-emptive strike” to protect Boris Johnson’s own interests, No 10 has said.

The Prime Minister’s former chief aide Dominic Cummings alleged on Twitter that proposals to set up a new committee to review standards – which were approved by MPs before being scrapped on Thursday – had been designed to target Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, ahead of any investigations into allegations made against the Prime Minister.

Downing Street denied this was the case but earlier, before the measures were binned, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had said Ms Stone should consider her position.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Kwarteng said: “I think it’s difficult to see what the future of the commissioner is, given the fact that we’re reviewing the process, and we’re overturning and trying to reform this whole process, but it’s up to the commissioner to decide her position.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised what he described as “corruption” in an op-ed in Thursday’s Guardian.

(More to follow)

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