Owen Paterson: Conservative announces his resignation as MP following lobbying suspension fallout

The suspension of Owen Paterson had been controversially blocked by MPs following a vote before a government U-turn on the decision

MP Owen Paterson has resigned from his post following controversy surrounding his suspension from the House of Commons being blocked.

The North Shropshire MP has resigned from his role after a vote in the House of Commons, which blocked his suspension on the grounds of paid lobbying, was met with outrage from opposition parties.

On Thursday morning, Boris Johnson and the Government U-turned on the decision to block the suspension and immediately overhaul the disciplinary procedures for MPs in response to the backlash.

At a glance: 5 key points

  •  Paterson had been found to have breached parliamentary code after lobbying for two companies who had paid him more than £100,000 per year to advise
  • The Committee for Standards recommended that Paterson serve a 30 day suspension from the House of Commons
  • Former Commons Leader, Andrea Leadsom, submitted an amendment to the motion of Paterson’s suspension and called for an overhaul of the disciplinary investigation procedure, which passed after a three-line whip effectively  mandating that Conservative MPs vote in favour
  • The decision to block the suspension and call for an overhaul was met with outrage, with the Government U-turning on their decision to do so
  • Paterson has now announced his resignation from his role as an MP for North Shropshire as the fallout from the incident continues
Owen Paterson has resigned as an MP for North Shropshire after controversial vote to block his suspension from the House of Commons for breaching lobbying rules. (Credit: Getty)

What did Owen Paterson say?

In a statement issued on Thursday (4 November), Paterson said: “I have today, after consultation with my family, and with much sadness decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire.

“The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me.

“My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned.

“I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety.

“I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system.

“Far, far worse than having my honesty questioned was, of course, the suicide of my beloved and wonderful wife, Rose.

“She was everything to my children and me. We miss her everyday and the world will always be grey, sad and ultimately meaningless without her.”

Paterson, who has served as an MP for North Shropshire since 1997, described the last few days as “intolerable” for his family.

He said: “Worst of all was seeing people, including MPs, publicly mock and deride Rose’s death and belittle our pain. My children have therefore asked me to leave politics altogether, for my sake as well as theirs.

“I agree with them. I do not want my wife’s memory and reputation to become a political football.

“Above all, I always put my family first.”

What will Paterson do now?

Paterson said that the decision was “painful”, before revealing that he will still serve as a public servant but “outside the world of politics.”

He said: “This is a painful decision but I believe the right one.

“I have loved being the MP for North Shropshire and have considered it a privilege to have been elected to serve my constituents for 24 years.

“I would like to thank my staff who have worked for me so loyally over many years. I also want to thank those who have stood by me so staunchly.

“I wish them all the best in that difficult but vital job of being a Member of Parliament.

“I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics.

“I intend to devote myself to public service in whatever ways I can, but especially in the world of suicide prevention.

“At this incredibly difficult time for my family, we ask that the media respects our privacy and lets us grieve my beloved Rose, the best person I ever met.”

What have others said about the situation?

Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has called on Boris Johnson to apologise for the situation after a “grubby attempt to cover up for the misdemeanour of his friend” after an “unbelievable 24 hours”.

He said: “This has been an unbelievable 24 hours even by this Government’s chaotic standards.

“Only yesterday Boris Johnson was forcing his MPs to rip up the rules on standards in public life in a truly damning indictment of this Prime Minister and the corrupt Government he leads.

“Boris Johnson must now apologise to the entire country for this grubby attempt to cover up for the misdemeanour of his friend. This isn’t the first time he’s done this but it must be the last.

“Boris Johnson must explain how he intends to fix the immense harm he has done to confidence in the probity of him and his MPs.”

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