The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed moves by Powys’ Conservative MPs Fay Jones and Craig Williams to vote to stop the suspension of a Tory MP who committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules, stating that the MPs have repeatedly failed to exercise any independence and do the right thing.
Owen Paterson faced a 30-day suspension and a possible by-election, after a committee found he had misused his position to benefit two companies he worked for.
Both Fay Jones and Craig Williams voted to rip up the existing rulebook on the standards commission and let Owen Paterson off the hook. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson u-turned on the decision this morning after a large-scale backlash from the media and public.
Commenting on the developments Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:
“Both Fay Jones and Craig Williams should be embarrassed for backing the amendment which was a Trumpian move by the Conservative Party to protect one of their own and water down rules for dealing with sleaze and corruption in politics.
“Everyone understands that Owen Paterson has had a difficult few years, but publicly elected members of the UK’s political system must always be held to the highest of standards in order to maintain trust with the public and protect the integrity of our democracy.
“Yesterday’s developments marked a shameful move by Conservative MPs to rewrite the rules to look after one of their own. It was sheer hypocrisy after ministers claimed they couldn’t change the rules retrospectively to allow Rob Roberts MP to be voted out by his constituents even after he was found to have sexually harassed an employee.
“Powys’ Conservative MPs should remember that their first duty should always be to their constituents, the country, and our democracy, not to endlessly defend their own political party and trample over democratic standards to do so.
“I would urge them both to exercise more independence in the future and not always simply follow the Party whip.”