voice for democracy

Sleaze debate: Sir Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of ‘damaging our democracy’ over Owen Paterson row – Evening Standard

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Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson had ‘erroded trust’ in politics
ir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of “damaging our democracy” over the Owen Paterson sleaze row.
He urged MPs to resist the Government’s “politics of cynicism”.
The Labour leader told the House of Commons the prime minister had “corroded” trust in the political system by attempting to overhaul rules on parliamentary standards to help the former Cabinet Minister.
He told MPs at an emergency debate on Monday Mr Johnson was “running scared” after he chose not to defend his Government’s actions at the dispatch box.
Sir Keir said: “His concern as always is self-preservation, not the national interest. We will not stand by while he trashes our democracy.
“The prime minister should have told Mr Paterson that the right thing to do was accept his punishment. His duty of care and basic decency demanded that.
“Instead the British people were let down, and Mr Paterson was let down – used in an extraordinary attack on our commissioner for standards.”
Elsewhere, Sir Keir said the row formed part of a “pattern of behaviour” by Mr Johnson.
“This is the prime minister’s way of doing business,” he added. “He knows that the rules apply to him, but his strategy is to devalue those rules so that they don’t matter to anyone.
“That way politics becomes contaminated, and cynicism replaces confidence and trust. The prime minister hopes to drag us all into the gutter with him.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay offered an apology for the “manner” in which the amendment was brought forward last week.
He told the Commons: “I would like to express my regret and that of my ministerial colleagues over the mistake made last week.
“We recognise that there are concerns across the house over the standards system… Yet while sincerely held concerns clearly warrant further attention, the manner in which the government approached last week’s debate conflated them with the response to an individual case.”
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, making a statement ahead of the emergency debate, said any changes to the standards system must be done with cross-party support.
In his concluding remarks ahead of the debate, he told MPs: “I granted this debate today because I thought it was essential to sort out the mess we’re in.”
Wendy Chamberlain, the chief whip for the Liberal Democrats, said the affair had “tarnished Parliament’s reputation”.
She told the Commons: “Most of the time I am proud to represent my constituency… It is hard to be proud to be an MP when we are tarnished by the government’s behaviour.
“What gives the government the right to change the rules when the decision doesn’t suit them?”

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