Owen Paterson Sleaze Row Dismissed As A 'Storm In A Teacup' By Cabinet Minister

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(Photo: Victoria Jones via PA Wire/PA Images)
(Photo: Victoria Jones via PA Wire/PA Images)

The Owen Paterson sleaze row has been dismissed by a cabinet minister as a “storm in a teacup”.

George Eustice, the environment secretary, admitted on Sunday the government had “made a mistake” over the affair.

Boris Johnson was forced on Thursday to U-turn over a plan to prevent Paterson facing a 30-day Commons suspension for a serious breach of lobbying rules.

Paterson subsequently quit as an MP after the government abandoned an attempt to set up a Tory-dominated committee to re-examine his case and the wider Commons standards regime.

In an interview with Sky News, Eustice was asked if the government was in trouble over its “character” and “sleaze” allegations.

“What we have seen is a Westminster storm in a teacup,” said. “Yes, we made a mistake in bringing that forward in the way that we did, so we withdrew it.

It came as Labour called for Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons who tried to push through the changes to parliament’s standards rules, to resign.

Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said the affair was “Tory sleaze, pure and simple”.

“If I was him, I’d be considering my position, that’s what I think he should do today,” she said of Rees-Mogg. “I think his position is untenable.”

Debbonaire also demanded that Johnson “rules that out” handing Paterson a seat in the House of Lords.

On Saturday John Major also launched an extraordinary broadside at Johnson over the Paterson row.

The Conservative former prime minister said the conduct was “shameful” and had trashed the reputation of parliament.

Major told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the government had been “politically corrupt” over its treatment of the Commons.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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