Jacob Rees-Mogg has admitted that he was “wrong” in encouraging Boris Johnson to back a failed attempt to prevent Owen Paterson’s suspension by setting up a Tory-dominated committee to review standards.
In a move that sparked outrage earlier this month, the prime minister whipped his MPs to vote for a recast of the sleaze rules – only to turn around less than 24 hours later.
Regarding the now abandoned change, which the opposition parties in Westminster have called “corruption” of the government, the chairman of the House of Commons said voters viewed the move as “self-interest”.
His remarks come as MPs prepare to debate the issue again on Tuesday after the government’s attempt to draw a line under the scandal failed on Monday night when a seasoned Conservative MP unexpectedly blocked a motion that the The government should complete U-turn.
In his Moggcast podcast hosted by Conservative Home, the Commons leader admitted, “I have to take my share of the responsibility for this – I thought it was the right thing to do.
“I encouraged the Prime Minister to go that route and I was wrong, I made a mistake.”
He added, “The question is, why did I make this mistake which, in hindsight, seems like a really obvious mistake. It was because there was a merging between elements of the process that were difficult – the expenditure of time being one of them – and the personal, and the personal overwhelming was the death of Rose [Paterson].
“I felt that Owen was punished enough by the death of his wife, so I let that merging take place in my mind. And that was clearly a mistake.
“It was not seen as compassionate by the electorate, it was seen as selfish, and that has not helped either the government or parliament, and so when this moggcast comes out it will be undone.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also insisted he trust Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, after Economic Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng apologized Monday for suggesting that she move on Nov.
“Yes, I have confidence in the Commissioner,” he said. “I got to know her as the chairwoman of the house. I find them impressive and sincere. I think the role she has is inevitably an extremely difficult one. “
When asked for his comments on the podcast, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman later told reporters that Mr Johnson continued to have confidence in Mr Rees-Mogg as leader of the House of Representatives, but added, “I would not comment on individual discussions he had with has cabinet members ”.
Over the weekend, the Prime Minister admitted he could have been “better” with the Sleaze franchise – but stopped apologizing.
Speaking at a # 10 press conference on Sunday, Mr. Johnson said what he would say to those who thought he “went wrong”: “Of course things could have been done better, let me put it that way. from me.”