TWO hundred and fifty Tory MPs made fools of themselves and will face the consequences in due course after they voted to save Owen Paterson and it was overturned by fiat! Chaos followed and Johnson has now begun to slump! His Teflon shield is going.

Mr Johnson’s government acted as though it was entitled to do whatever it wanted when it tried to overturn the decision of the standards commissioner and at same time abolish it!

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The English education secretary, Nadim Zahawi, has accepted the government committed “errors” as he tried to gloss over the magnitude of the action. It goes beyond errors!

It committed gross culpability in its actions. Yet Zahawi denied that the debacle called into question the Prime Minister’s judgment. He even claimed Johnson’s U-turn shows character! The Guardian has identified at least 30 instances of panicked U-turns since the 2019 General Election. A catalogue of sheer incompetence!

Zahawi also defended his Cabinet colleague Kwasi Kwarteng over his public “attack” on the standards commissioner Kathryn Stone. The bare-faced idiocy of Zahawi is seen in that he admitted he did not read the report which stated Paterson broke lobbying rules, yet he voted to save Paterson. Underlings step in to massage opinion every time Johnson, Rees-Mogg and others screw up! This time it was open political corruption!

READ MORE: Jacob Rees-Mogg told to step down after 'disastrous' Owen Paterson defence

The Financial Times reports that potential Tory rebels were told they would lose constituency funding if they failed to vote against setting up a new standards commission in order to save Paterson.

Downing Street failed to deny reports that Tory MPs had been told that regeneration cash could be withheld from their constituencies if they broke the three-line whip.

The PM has already been investigated more times than any other MP in the past three years by the standards commissioner. No 10 has even refused to deny that Paterson could be awarded a peerage!

It is now the case that this incumbent in No 10 and the cronies around him are still intent on pushing it as far as they can with impunity at home and abroad, junking treaties and acting outwith accepted norms.

A despicable bunch indeed!

John Edgar

THOUGH not someone most sentient people would place on their most trusted list, it is entirely probable that Dominic Cummings’s explanation citing the Prime Minister’s self-preservation in the Tory bid to undermine Westminster’s current standards procedures may be accurate.

He has faced more probes into his conduct than any other sitting Member of Parliament and it may well be the case that the reinstated standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, has Boris Johnson in her sights regarding his alleged breaking of parliamentary rules regarding the funding of his Downing Street flat refurbishment.

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The botched attempt to once again re-write parliamentary rules has resulted in the resignation of the MP for North Shropshire, Owen Paterson, and highlighted the sleaze and corruption that lie deep in the heart of this Conservative government as typified by their cunning, ruthless and mendacious leader.

As Dominic Cummings has suggested, anyone who ceases to be of use to the Prime Minister simply becomes expendable cannon fodder, and thanks to Mr Paterson’s inability to be of use as a political human shield for his leader, he has suffered this fate.

The Prime Minister’s attempt – in tandem with the antediluvian Leader of the House and the hapless Andrea Leadsom – to bully and cajole Conservative MPs into altering parliamentary rules and thereby clear Mr Paterson and alleviate Johnson’s anxieties, would have shamed a Mississippi courtroom in the 1960s. This is an audacious, deviant Prime Minister who, as even the leader of the opposition acknowledged yesterday, will lead his troops through the political sewer if it suits his purposes.

Owen Paterson was unanimously found guilty of corrupt practices by the standards committee but rather than accept a democratic decision, Johnson and Paterson’s right-wing reactionary allies took the decision to try not just to circumvent the system, but to ditch it in favour of a new one that would be Tory-friendly and utterly obedient to the amoral and dishonourable Prime Minister.

When the Daily Mail, one of the most fervent and obsequious Tory-supporting publications, expresses outrage and incredulity at their skullduggery, we have reached a new low point in British political life and an ominous and transparent threat to democracy.

It may read as just another insouciant U- turn by this most brazen of Prime Ministers and his criminal gang, but perhaps this time the institutionalised corruption and flagrant disobeying of the rules will have a consequence. We can only hope so.

Owen Kelly

IN her Wednesday column Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said: “In England they could now book [a Covid booster jab] today and get jagged tomorrow.” This may be the plan south of the Border but a Guardian article earlier this week (No 10 concerned as 4.5 million people fail to get booster shots) suggested flaws in the system.

On Thursday there were three letters in the Guardian where the writers (from Sheffield, Manchester and Oxford) outlined the difficulties they had encountered when attempting to arrange a booster jab. One person could not be jabbed because their GP had run out of vaccines and another was directed to a vaccination centre more than 20 miles away despite the NHS England website stating no-one is more than 10 miles away from a centre!

Alan Woodcock