Former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major has criticised the government’s handling of Owen Paterson’s case as shameful and wrong.
In a BBC interview, he said the actions of Boris Johnson’s government had trashed Parliament’s reputation at home and abroad, and were “un-Conservative”.
This week, the government tried to block the suspension of Mr Paterson, who had broken lobbying rules – but then reversed its decision.
The government has apologised.
On Wednesday, Tory MPs blocked the Commons Standards Committee’s recommendation that Mr Paterson should be suspended for 30 days by calling for an overhaul of the MPs’ standards watchdog instead.
They initially had the backing of No 10, but Downing Street reversed its decision after a furious backlash by opposition MPs and some Conservatives.Mr Paterson then resigned as MP for North Shropshire, saying he wanted a life “outside the cruel world of politics”.
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Listen to the full interview on BBC Sounds here
Sir John suggested the Johnson administration was “politically corrupt” over its treatment of the House of Commons and said its attempt to overhaul the standards system was “rather a bad mistake” but “isn’t a mistake on its own”.
“There’s a general whiff of ‘we are the masters now’ about their behaviour,” he said.
“It has to stop, it has to stop soon.”
Sir John told BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme: “I have been a Conservative all my life. And if I am concerned at how the government is behaving, I suspect lots of other people are as well.
“It seems to me, as a lifelong Conservative, that much of what they are doing is un-Conservative in its behaviour.”
“This government has done a number of things that have concerned me deeply: they have broken the law, the prorogation of Parliament. They have broken treaties, I have in mind the Northern Ireland Protocol. They have broken their word on many occasions.”