Owen Paterson has resigned as an MP following a row over his conduct.
Mr Paterson, who had been the MP for North Shropshire since 1997, was found to have broken lobbying rules by an independent Parliamentary body.
The body had recommended that Mr Paterson be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days, though Conservative MPs blocked the suspension on Wednesday and called for an overhaul of how MPs conduct is policed. Mr Paterson has claimed he was “totally innocent” of breaking lobbying rules.
The move by the government to encourage MPs to protect Paterson from suspension caused significant backlash, and led to the government being accused of ‘corruption’. Following the backlash, the government performed a u-turn on Thursday by dropping its support of the MPs suspension being blocked.
Paterson resigned as an MP within hours of the Government’s u-turn, saying in a statement that he now wanted a life “outside the cruel world of politics”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed his disappointment at Paterson’s resignation, describing him as “a friend and colleague of mine for decades” and one who has had “a distinguished career”. Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer said “Boris Johnson must apologise for the grubby attempt to cover up for the misdemeanour of his friend. It’s not the first time he’s done this but it must be the last. He must also explain how he will fix the immense harm he has done to confidence in the probity of him and his MPs.”
Paterson’s resignation means a by-election will be held to elect a new MP in the North Shropshire parliamentary constituency.