Boris Johnson has embroiled his government in yet another sleaze crisis.

By voting through rules to let one of his MPs Owen Paterson off the hook after a standards watchdog ruled he had broken lobbying rules, he has unleashed a torrent of criticism from left to right, forcing him to U-turn with such speed, he barely had time to look in his wing mirrors.

It is not the first time the Tories have been left clamouring to justify iffy behaviour.

Indeed, in the two years that Johnson has been the prime minister he has presided over a thoroughly “one rule for them and another for us” interpretation of his executive powers on numerous occasions.

Here’s a rundown of the most notable of these occasions.

Proroguing parliament

Lady Hale, who delivered the verdict of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, caused a stir with her spider accessoryLady Hale, delivered the verdict of the Supreme CourtSupreme Court/PA

In August 2019, not yet a month into the job of PM, Johnson asked the Queen to shut Parliament for five weeks, between 9th September until 14th October so the government had time to prepare its legislative agenda for the year ahead.

So far, so uncontroversial.

Except the timing of the suspension just so happened to coincide with the government passing key Brexit legislation and politicians said he was deliberately giving them a limited time to sufficiently scrutinise the legislation.

After a legal battle, the Supreme Court said the prorogation was “unlawful” and parliament remained open.

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Conservative cronyism

Johnson’s government has repeatedly been accused of cronyism. In 2020, the Guardian revealed that a quarter of peerages awarded this year have been to Conservative party donors, close associates or former colleagues of Johnson, and as recently as last month, financier Malcolm Offord, who has gifted £147,500 to the Conservative Party, was appointed as a junior minister at the Scotland Office.

Johnson was also admonished for appointing Nicky Morgan as culture secretary in 2019, even though she did not stand in the 2019 general election, while he also allowed Zac Goldsmith (more on him later) to enter the House of Lords so he could serve as a minster.

The party has also been accused of dishing out public sector contracts to friends and donors, particularly during the pandemic.

Changing tax rules for mates

<p>Sir James Dyson</p>Sir James DysonPA Media

In April this year, the BBC published text messages between the PM and James Dyson – the Brexit loving vacuum cleaner bloke – showing the PM assuring the latter he would not have to pay extra tax if his company moved from Singapore to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.

Two weeks later –Rishi Sunak told a group of MPs that the tax status of people coming to the UK to provide specific help during the pandemic would not change.

At the time, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “These are jaw-dropping revelations. Boris Johnson is now front and centre of the biggest lobbying scandal in a generation, and Tory sleaze has reached the heart of Downing Street.”

Johnson and the Tories, however, maintained the decision was the right thing to do to get ventilators fast.

Dyson similarly defended himself and said he was “hugely proud” of his firm’s response in “the midst of a national emergency”, and that he would “do the same again if asked”.

Boris Johnson’s flat refurbishment

April certainly was a busy month for Johnson batting away sleaze allegations as he also ended up being slapped on the wrist over the funding of his Downing Street flat refurbishment.

There was speculation about who funded his refurb - which involved rolls of £850 gold wallpaper that would perhaps even cause Salt Bae to pause - and whether he accepted Tory donors help. He maintains he paid for it himself but the Electoral Commission are currently investigating the matter.

The PM’s adviser on standards ruled Johnson had not broken the ministerial code but had “unwisely...allowed the proceed without more rigorous regard for how this would be funded”.

Starmer called him “Major Sleaze.”

Breaking their own coronavirus rules

Matt Hancock PA

Throughout the pandemic, Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, told the nation that it was very important indeed that we follow coronavirus rules to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.

In May 2021, the public was told to social distance, restaurants and pubs only allowed outdoor seating and separate households were not allowed to mix indoors.

In June, it was revealed that in May while these very same social distancing rules were in place, Hancock snogged a colleague in his office - and not at a distance.

Rather than immediately firing him - Johnson allowed Hancock to um and ah over whether to resign while the public got angrier and angrier and, in response, the prime minister even said Hancock “should leave office very proud of what you have achieved - not just in tackling the pandemic, but even before Covid-19 struck us”.

He added: “I am grateful for your support and believe that your contribution to public service is far from over.”

Aside from that, Number 10 has recently denied that Johnson himself broke festive Covid rules over Christmas by allegedly having a mate over. Meanwhile, we don’t even need to remind you how about the time Dominic Cummings broke the first national lockdown and Johnson didn’t fire or call for him to resign.

Who funds Johnson’s holibobs?

When most people go on holiday, people wish them well and ask for a postcard. When Boris Johnson goes on holiday, he causes the launch inquiries into who paid for his ice cream.

In July, he was criticised by the MPs standards watchdog for failing to promptly explain how a 2019 trip to Mustique was funded but was cleared of breaching the rules. The committee overruled the Commons standards commissioner Kathryn Stone who had concluded that he broke the rules by having not “fulfilled conscientiously” the requirements to register the donation - by David Ross - the founder of Carphone Warehouse who is a Tory donor and later was employed by the government.

Meanwhile, Labour has today asked the parliamentary watchdog to investigate whether Boris Johnson failed to properly declare a free holiday reportedly funded by the family of Tory peer Zac Goldsmith (we told you there would be more on him).

Johnson stayed in a villa in Marbella in October.

Owen Paterson

FILE: Owen Paterson Resigns as MPOwen Paterson Getty Images

And that brings us to the Paterson case. Today, Tory ministers are running around broadcast studios with proverbial mops in their hands desperately trying to clean up the mess they have landed themselves in.

But with the Tories plummeting in the polls, it seems they’ve got a big job on their hands.

After all, sleaze sticks.

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