Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi admits ‘we made a mistake’ over Owen Paterson sleaze row

Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi admits ‘we made a mistake’ over Owen Paterson sleaze row

A Tory minister has left people aghast after he appeared to admit to not reading the report about Owen Paterson’s conduct before he voted to block the MP’s suspension.

Asked whether he sided with the standards committee or Paterson on BBC Breakfast this morning, education minister Nadhim Zahawi said he couldn’t pass full judgement because he hadn’t read the 175-page report about the case, before appearing to backtrack and say he wasn’t abreast with the “details” of it.

He said:

“I actually haven’t read the report so it would be unfair of me to go through the details...” he said.

It comes after the sleaze-tainted MP resigned yesterday, after being found to have broken lobbying rules. He left parliament not quietly, but by lighting a match and throwing it behind him (appropriate for Guy Fawkes night, really) - triggering a vote into whether his temporary suspension should be overturned and the standards committee looked at; a government U-turn after a big backlash when it was deemed - yes, the rule book should be ripped up -; and an overall headache for prime minister Boris Johnson as his party was deemed sleazy and plummeted in the polls.

Pressed if he voted on the issue without reading the report, he continued: “Bear with me a second. I’ve looked at the report, I haven’t gone into the details, Owen says that much of it is contested.”

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Appearing to backtrack further, he added: “No, I said to you I haven’t gone into the details...”

“I can’t stand here in front of you and say ‘I know all the details of the 14 statements that have been made.”

Elsewhere on the media rounds this morning, the minister noted “we made a mistake” over the scandal.

Speaking to Sky News he said:

“The Prime Minister has always been very clear that paid lobbying is not allowed.

“The mistake is the conflation of creating a fairer system with the right of appeal for Parliamentarians to be able to put forward an appeal process.”

To the BBC, he added: “The important thing to focus on is that we want a process that carries the confidence of the nation.”

I don’t think the nation is feeling very confident right now, bestie.

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