THE CONSERVATIVES have been described as the most corrupt government in modern times as they attempt to change rules and scrap sanctions for an MP.

Owen Paterson was found to have misused his position as MP for North Shropshire when he worked as a paid consultant for two companies, receiving around £100,000 for the work.

In a judgment by the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, Mr Paterson was said to have committed an “egregious breach” of the code of conduct, and a sanction of 30 days suspension was recommended.

Mr Paterson has rejected the conclusion, and said that the investigation contributed to the suicide of his wife Rose last year.

Now the Conservatives have tabled a motion which would change the rules and scrap Mr Paterson’s punishment, with all Tory MPs being whipped to support it.

Mr Paterson’s supporters are also calling for a new committee to be set up to consider changes to the process for investigating MPs, which would have a majority of Tory members. If this happens, Mr Paterson’s suspension would be put on hold.

A fierce debate around the plans is ongoing in the Commons this afternoon, with Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the house, defending the plans and urging MPs not to be “partisan”

He said that Mr Paterson’s wife’s suicide “is a greater punishment than any House of Commons committee could inflict”.

He said: “Members must act when we see a situation arise that we do not believe to be compatible with the principles of natural justice. This is about the process and not the individual case.

“But, how can one not consider the great sorrow my right honourable friend has suffered when considering this report. The suicide of his wife is a greater punishment than any House of Commons committee could inflict.”

However Labour MP Richard Burgon said the plans were “dodgy” and attacked the government directly.

He said: “I think we need to widen this out. People out there believe the Government’s attempt to rewrite the rules looks dodgy. And the reason they believe it looks dodgy is because it is dodgy.

“It’s a plan to cover up the kind of corruptions we’ve seen throughout the Covid crisis. Polls show that the population believes that this Government is corrupt. I’m afraid they’re correct. It’s the most corrupt Government in modern history.”

Pete Wishart, SNP MP, said that his party would not take part in any new committee if the house voted to accept the government’s plans later today.

He also said he initially thought the proposals were “some kind of joke” when he first was made aware of them.

The MP for Perth and North Perthshire said: “ “Today we have the full force of the Government whipping operation dragooning Conservative Members of Parliament through this House to overturn the decision of our standards committee and to introduce by a new way how we look and examine breaches of our rules in this House. It is almost outrageous in its suggestion.”

“They want to overthrow the verdict of the independent committee and to have the matter determined by a committee with a Conservative chair and a Conservative majority.

“That’s natural justice Conservative-style.

“Can I say this committee is supposed to have a Conservative chair, four other Conservative members, three Labour members and one Scottish National Party member.

“The Scottish National Party will not serve on any kangaroo court designed and determined by this party in order to do away with an independent process for looking at the breach of the rules.”