Boris Johnson has U-turned and scrapped controversial plans to overhaul the standards system, after a Tory MP dodged suspension for breaching lobbying rules.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, said the move had “created a certain amount of controversy” and “conflated the individual case with the general concern” there was not an appeals process for MPs unhappy with the punishment they faced.
Rees-Mogg said the government wanted to “achieve improvements in our system for future cases” – but that cross-party consensus was not possible after Labour and the SNP vowed to boycott the new committee.
And he suggested any changes may not “apply retrospectively” after the government came under intense criticism for blocking Owen Paterson’s immediate suspension.
Speaking in the Commons on Thursday morning, he said: “I am aware that last night’s vote has created a certain amount of controversy.
“It is important that standards in this house are done on a cross-party basis.
“The House voted very clearly yesterday to show that it is worried about the process of handling these complaints and that we would like an appeals system, but the change would need to be on a cross-party basis and that is clearly not the case.
“While there is a very strong feeling on both sides of the House that there is a need for an appeals process, there is equally a strong feeling that this should not be based on a single case or apply retrospectively.
“I fear last night’s debate conflated an individual case with the general concern. This link needs to be broken.
“Therefore I and others will be looking to work on a cross-party basis to achieve improvements in our system for future cases.
“We will bring forward more detailed proposals once there have been cross-party discussions.”
Rees-Mogg’s announcement to MPs came as an ethics adviser to the Prime Minister described Wednesday’s votes as a “very serious and damaging moment for Parliament”.
Lord Evans, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said plans for a Tory-led review into the disciplinary process for MPs as being “deeply at odds with the best traditions of British democracy”.
More to follow…