LABOUR’S plans for a tougher crackdown on Westminster politicians’ second jobs have been rejected by MPs – but "watered-down" rule changes are set to be made after the Government’s proposals were voted through.

The opposition party’s standards motion calling for a ban on “any paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant” was backed by four Conservatives MPS.

But Keir Starmer’s plans in response to the sleaze scandal were defeated in a vote after the Labour leader accused Boris Johnson of being “a coward not a leader” in an ill-tempted Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mr Johnson has been under increasing pressure to act after he ordered MPs to back a plan to block the suspension of Mr Paterson for breaching lobbying rules, only to make a U-turn following a backlash.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said recommendations to update the code of conduct for MPs should be brought forward by January 31 next year.

He added: “That sets a clear timeframe for progress on the issues discussed today.

READ MORE: SNP criticise 'half-baked' plans by Boris Johnson to ban MPs being lobbyists or consultants

“The Government therefore supports a more practical amendment that acknowledges the concerns we’ve all been hearing in recent days and positively proposes that the proportionate measures devised by the Committee on Standards in Public Life should be taken forward on a cross-party basis.

“I can confirm to the House that we believe this experience and expertise that we accrue as part of our work as MPs should not be for sale. We are elected to Parliament on a promise to work for the greater good, not ourselves.”

Labour MPs dismissed the argument that politicians need to be allowed to do extra work for real world experience, arguing it is a full time job.

The party's shadow Commons leader, Thangam Debbonaire, said: "There should be no MP taking money to be a political strategist, an assistant or some sort of corporate adviser. That should not happen."

At an appearance in front of the Commons’ Liaison Committee on Wednesday, the Prime Minster admitted “there’s no question” that Mr Paterson had “fallen foul of the rules on paid advocacy”.

READ MORE: PMQs: Boris Johnson labelled 'coward not a leader' for failing to apologise for sleaze scandal

He added that it may have “helped a bit” if he had said Mr Paterson had broken the rules sooner.

During a fiery Prime Minister's Questions, Sir Keir was forced to withdraw calling Mr Johnson “a coward”, while Mr Johnson was repeatedly reprimanded by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle who reminded the PM: “You may be the Prime Minister of this country, but in this house I'm in charge.”

Speaking at PMQs, Sir Keir pointed to several members of Mr Johnson’s Government who have apologised for the fiasco and called on the Prime Minister to follow suit.

He added: “Will he do the decent thing and just say sorry for trying to give the green light to corruption?”

The Prime Minister did not issue an apology but repeated his previous remarks that “it certainly was a mistake to conflate the case of an individual member – no matter how sad – with the point of principle at stake”.

READ MORE: 'I'm in charge': Angry Commons Speaker reprimands Boris Johnson at fiery PMQs

He added: “We do need a cross-party approach on an appeals process”.

Sir Keir insisted: “That’s not an apology.”

He added: “Everybody else has apologised for him, but he won’t apologise for himself - a coward not a leader."

Sir Keir pressed Mr Johnson further, asking if he would back an investigation into contracts given to Randox or “vote for another cover-up”.

The Labour leader said: “When somebody in my party misbehaves, I kick them out. When somebody in his party misbehaves, he tries to get them off the hook. I lead, he covers up.”

Mr Johnson said: “I’m very happy to publish all the details of the Randox contracts, which have been investigated by the National Audit Office already.”

But Health Minister Gillian Keegan later revealed the Government “have been unable to locate” records of a telephone conference call involving Randox, Mr Paterson and former minister Lord Bethell.

Speaking after the vote, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We put forward a plan of action to clean up politics and strengthen standards in politics.

“And if you can believe it, after two weeks of Tory sleaze and corruption, the Prime Minister whipped his MPs against that plan of action, and, frankly, he just doesn’t get.”

Sir Keir said: “We are not going to back down from these proposals, we’re not prepared to have them watered down, so we will press on with them.

“But it is unbelievable.”