Boris Johnson to miss ‘sleaze’ debate in the House of Commons, No 10 confirms

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Boris Johnson will miss Monday’s sleaze debate  (PA)
Boris Johnson will miss Monday’s sleaze debate (PA)

Boris Johnson will miss an emergency House of Commons debate on “sleaze” on Monday.

Downing Street has said the PM has a “longstanding” appointment in Northumberland.

The prime minister’s spokesman confirmed he would not make it back to Westminster in time following a long-planned visit to an NHS hospital trust in Hexham.

Instead the Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay will open the debate for the Government amid continuing anger among some Tory MPs over the way the issue has been handled by ministers.

Many Tory MPs are still furious after being ordered last week to vote for a new committee to consider a new system of appeals for MPs found to have broken the rules.

Only then for the Government to backtrack after opposition parties refused to co-operate.

Owen Paterson, the former cabinet minister at the centre of the dispute, announced he was stepping down as an MP for North Shropshire blaming the “cruel world of politics”.

It followed a recommendation by the Commons Standards Committee that he should be suspended from Parliament for six weeks after committing an “egregious” breach of the centuries old ban on paid lobbying by MPs.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of “running scared” rather than addressing the mess he had created.

He said: “Boris Johnson does not have the decency either to defend or apologise for his actions. Rather than repairing the damage he has done, the Prime Minister is running scared.

“When required to lead, he has chosen to hide. His concern, as always, is self-preservation, not the national interest.”

Speaking to reporters during his visit to Hexham General Hospital, Mr Johnson refused to be drawn on the chaotic events of last week.

Mr Johnson said: “I think it is very important that we get this right. We are going to hold MPs to account. MPs should not break the rules.”

Asked if MPs should be banned from taking second jobs, Mr Johnson said: “All those kind of things are issues that the Speaker’s panel – whatever he is going to set up – will have a look at.”

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