Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major has criticised the government’s attempts to block the suspension of Owen Paterson for breaking lobbying rules.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Major said: “I think the way the Government handled that was shameful, wrong and unworthy of this or indeed any government. It also had the effect of trashing the reputation of Parliament.”
Earlier this week, the government supported an amendment tabled by Andrea Leadsom to reform the House of Commons’ standards system.
The motion would temporarily prevent Paterson’s suspension.
It passed narrowly by 18 votes before the government reversed its decision following a furious backlash from backbench MPs and the media.
Paterson resigned on Thursday – citing family reasons.
Major argued the attempt to overhaul the standards system also reflected a poor attitude from the government.
“There’s a general whiff of ‘we are the masters now’ about their behaviour,” he said.
Major has been at odds with his party since the Brexit vote, and did not support current Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his leadership election.
At the time, he said: “”I cannot vote for someone who was part of the Brexit campaign that misled the country.”