Sun, 21 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
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Boris Johnson Refuses To Apologise For His Handling Of The Paterson Lobbying Scandal

3 min read

Boris Johnson has turned down an opportunity to apologise for his party’s botched attempt to reform parliament’s standards watchdog.

The Prime Minister's refusal to apologise comes ahead of an emergency debate in the Commons on the handling of the Owen Paterson paid lobbying scandal.

On Thursday last week Paterson announced he would resign as an MP over his role in a paid lobbying scandal, following a tumultuous 24 hours in which the government U-turned on a vote to re-write standards rules after major backlash. Johnson had originally thrown his weight behind the vote. 

Pressed by Sky News for an apology for the government's chaotic handling of the matter the Prime Minister insisted that “there isn’t much more to be said”. 

“What we do need to do is look also at the process and that is what we were trying to do last week,” Johnson said.

“What I hope is that there will be a cross party agreement on a way forward, including an appeal process for very difficult and very sad cases such as the one we’ve seen,” he added.

"If there is anything positive to come out of the whole thing, it is that, as far as I can make out, the Speaker is determined to try to move us all forward with a system whereby we have a cross-party approach, which is what we were trying to achieve last week."

Keir Starmer has accused Johnson of “running scared” rather than “repairing the damage he’s done” by missing today’s debate.

Johnson is undertaking a visit to a hospital in Northumberland and has said that because he is traveling by train, would not arrive back to London in time. 

"Boris Johnson does not have the decency either to defend or apologise for his actions," the Labour leader said.

"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."

House of Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle has described last week’s events as a “very dark week” for parliament.

"I don't want another week like that...let's listen to the views of MPs and then let's move forward," Hoyle said.

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