Owen Paterson: Boris Johnson says he is 'very sad' at MP's resignation
Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson in the House of Commons, London, as MPs debated an amendment calling for a review of his case after he received a six-week ban from Parliament over an "egregious" breach of lobbying rules.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “very sad” at Owen Paterson’s resignation but the MP had “decided to put his family first”.
“I am very sad that Parliament will lose the services of Owen Paterson who has been a friend and colleague of mine for decades,” Mr Johnson said.
“He has had a distinguished career, serving in two Cabinet positions, and above all he has been a voice for freedom – for free markets and free trade and free societies – and he was an early and powerful champion of Brexit.
“I know that this must have been a very difficult decision but I can understand why – after the tragic circumstances in which he lost his beloved wife Rose – he has decided to put his family first.”
Owen Paterson who has has resigned as the MP for North Shropshire. Victoria Jones
Owen Paterson resigned as an MP after Boris Johnson U-turned to allow a fresh vote on the former minister’s suspension for an alleged breach of lobbying rules.
The senior Tory announced his resignation on Thursday after the Prime Minister was forced into a retreat after preventing his immediate suspension by launching a review of the entire disciplinary system.
Mr Johnson had supported an attempt by Mr Paterson’s allies to review the sanction until opposition parties refused to take part in a “corrupt” Tory-led committee tasked with the review.
The Government whips were working to reschedule a vote on a six-week suspension for Mr Paterson after he was found to have repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.
But rather than face what looked like a likely defeat, Mr Paterson said he had made the “painful decision” to resign as the MP for North Shropshire, triggering a by-election after a high-profile sleaze row.
“The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me,” the 65-year-old said in a statement.
“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.”