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Owen Paterson resigns as MP instead of facing fresh vote on suspension

Owen Paterson. Picture by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Sam Blewett, David Hughes and Geraldine Scott, PA Political Staff

Owen Paterson has resigned as an MP after Boris Johnson U-turned to allow a fresh vote on the former minister's suspension after being found to have breached lobbying rules.

The senior Tory announced his resignation today after the British prime minister was forced into a retreat over plans to prevent his immediate suspension by launching a review of the entire disciplinary system.

Mr Johnson had supported an attempt by Mr Paterson's allies to review the sanction until opposition parties refused to take part in a "corrupt" Tory-led committee tasked with the review.

Rather than face a fresh vote on a possible six-week ban, Mr Paterson said he would resign as an MP, triggering a by-election after a high-profile sleaze row.

He said in a statement: "I have today, after consultation with my family and with much sadness, decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire.

"The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me.

"My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned.

"I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety.

"I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system."

Read more: DUP's Sammy Wilson only MP from NI to vote for Owen Paterson amendment

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