Thursday, December 9

Boris Johnson: MPs should be punished for breaking the rules | Boris johnson

Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK “is not remotely a corrupt country” and said MPs should be investigated and punished for breaking the rules, as the Conservative Party remains mired in sordid accusations.

Speaking in Glasgow, where he was paying a brief visit to the COP26 climate summit in its final days, the prime minister tried to reassure the public after a series of revelations about private earnings from his party colleagues.

“I really believe that the UK is not remotely a corrupt country, nor do I believe that our institutions are corrupt,” Johnson said.

He declined to comment directly on individual MPs, including former Attorney General Sir Geoffrey Cox, who is coming under fire for earnings of more than £ 1 million from his second job as a lawyer.

But Johnson said: “I think what there are are cases where unfortunately MPs have violated the rules in the past, they may be guilty of breaking the rules today. What I want to see is that they face the appropriate penalties. “

And he added: “The most important thing is that those who break the rules must be investigated and punished.”

He spoke a week after flogging Tory MPs into backing an amendment that sought to avoid punishment for Owen Paterson, a law-breaking MP, breaking the system of parliamentary standards.

Johnson reversed that decision less than 24 hours after a backlash from Tory MPs, and has since tabled a motion overturning the amendment, which MPs will vote on next week. Paterson has since resigned.

Amid a spate of claims about deputies’ lucrative second jobs and whether they create conflicts of interest, Johnson said that in many cases the public believed that this outside job “has actually strengthened our democracy.”

He said that for a hundred years the deputies have also worked as “doctors or lawyers or soldiers or firefighters.”

But Johnson stressed that if those second jobs were to continue, “it is crucial that MPs play by the rules” by focusing primarily on their constituents and avoiding “paid defense.”

“Anyone who breaks the rules, who engages in paid defense in the House of Commons should be punished,” he said.

Parliament’s rules committee found that Paterson had committed an “egregious” breach of the rules, repeatedly pressuring the government on behalf of two companies that paid him more than £ 100,000 a year.

Cox issued a statement defending his actions on Wednesday. “He does not believe that he has broken the rules, but of course he will accept the judgment of the parliamentary commissioner or the committee on the matter,” said the statement, written entirely in the third person.

His is just the latest in a series of cases that came to light last week after the prime minister’s failed attempt to protect Paterson.

The Guardian revealed Tuesday that Iain Duncan Smith chaired a task force advising the government making recommendations on how hand sanitizer should be regulated, while a company that makes hand sanitizer paid him £ 25,000 a year.

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