Owen Paterson suspension: Cabinet minister Kwasi Kwarteng questions future of Commons sleaze investigator

A cabinet minister has questioned the future of parliament’s sleaze investigator after her recommendation of a 30-day suspension for a Conservative MP was blocked by the prime minister and his Tory colleagues.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News that it was “difficult” to see a future for Kathryn Stone, the independent parliamentary commissioner for standards.

It comes after her recommendation of a suspension for North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, after he was found to have breached lobbying rules during his £110,000 a year private sector work, was blocked by Conservative MPs.

In a controversial House of Commons vote on Wednesday, which saw Boris Johnson’s government accused of “corruption”, Tory MPs passed a motion in favour of ignoring Ms Stone’s recommendation.

They also supported the creation of a new Conservative-majority committee to look into a complete overhaul of parliament’s standards rules and to reconsider Mr Paterson’s case.

Asked about Ms Stone’s future following the action by his fellow Tory MPs, Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: “I think it’s difficult to see what the future of the commissioner is, given the fact that we’re reviewing the process and we’re overturning and trying to reform this whole process.

“But it’s up to the commissioner to decide her position.”

Pressed on whether he was calling for Ms Stone to resign, the business secretary added: “It’s up to her to do that, it’s up to anyone where they’ve made a judgement and people have sought to change that to consider their position, that’s a natural thing.

“But I’m not saying she should resign.”

Ms Stone’s term as commissioner is due to finish in December next year and her office has said she will serve her full term.

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