British MP Owen Paterson resigns after argument over proposed suspension

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Nov. 4 (UPI) — British Member of Parliament Owen Paterson resigned following a fight that broke out after his proposed suspension from the House of Commons for breaching lobbying rules.

Paterson, who has been an MP for 24 years, was at the center of a scandal after it was recommended that he be suspended for 30 days. Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone found that the MP broke lobbying rules during his $148,000-per-year private sector work.

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The Commons Standards Committee said last week that he used his position to benefit two firms that we worked for.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraged conservative MPs to pass a motion favoring Paterson’s 30-day suspension. But Tory MPs blocked the motion, calling for an overhaul of the MP’s standards watchdog.

The government faced a furious backlash in its attempt to change conduct rules, and Downing Street reversed its stance. A vote on Paterson’s suspension was to come following Wednesday’s showdown.

Hours later, Paterson announced his resignation, stating that he wanted to escape the “cruel world of politics.” He insisted that he did nothing wrong.

“I am unable to clear my name under the current system,” he said in a statement. “The last few days have been intolerable [for my family].”

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Paterson’s Tory allies bade him farewell but other MPs said Paterson needed to be held accountable for his actions.

Paterson was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire in 1956. He studied history at Cambridge University and became director of his family’s leather business. He became Northern Ireland secretary in 2010 and environment secretary in 2012.

His wife, Rose, died by suicide last year. She left behind three children.

Paterson said that some MPs publicly mocked and derided her death.

“My children have therefore asked me to leave politics altogether, for my sake as well as theirs,” he said. “I do not want my wife’s memory and reputation to become a political football.”