Did Boris Johnson open a Pandora’s box by unleashing, despite himself, a corrosive debate on corruption within his government, the Conservative Party, and even at the heart of his own practices? In recent days, the British media have multiplied the revelations on these Tory deputies generously paid for advisory missions, on the practice of « cash for honours » – the most generous donors of the Conservative Party are rewarded with a title of Lord – or on those vacations in the sun which the Prime Minister multiplies thanks to the generosity of billionaire friends.
Monday, November 8, during an extraordinary debate in the House of Commons demanded by the opposition parties, Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labor Party, unleashed his blows, accusing Boris Johnson of having “Given the green light to corruption” and calling him ” cowardly ” – the leader used the excuse of a visit to a hospital in the north of England to avoid confronting elected officials. On the same day, during a virtual meeting with the foreign press, Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, another great opponent of Mr Johnson, also said that“There is growing evidence that corruption is at the heart of his government. This type of behavior would not be surprising in Russia or China ”. Even John Major, the former Tory prime minister, called the Johnson government a “Corrupt”.
It all started with a maneuver intended, at first glance, to save Owen Paterson, a Conservative MP, the disciplinary measure which threatened him, the independent commissioner in charge of the rules of Parliament, Kathryn Stone, having concluded that he had violated the rules. lobbying rules. Mr Paterson, former UK minister responsible for Northern Ireland, has been paid almost £ 9,000 per month (around € 10,000) by two companies to take their case to the government. One of the two companies, the pharmaceutical laboratory Randox, won generous public contracts at the height of the pandemic crisis.
Downing Street imposed a Commons vote on Nov. 3 to defer sanctioning Paterson (a three-month suspension) but also to reform the rules committee. To the Tories who did not comply, he would have even threatened to deprive them of funds for their constituency, some newspapers have argued.
Complaining of an investigation
This forced vote was immediately denounced by all the media, causing an about-face of the government, which announced that it was no longer opposed to the sanction against Mr. Paterson (the latter resigned in the wake of his post as MP ). Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, recognized a ” fault “. But the damage had been done and the criticism machine got carried away.
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Boris Johnson overwhelmed by lobbying scandal