A crisis scratching the image of the world’s most prestigious institution… Has corruption succeeded in penetrating the British Parliament?
After accusations of conflict of interests chasing the Conservative Party in the House of Representatives, the investigation is heading into suspicions that the party sold seats in the House of Lords, which puts the party and its leader, Boris Johnson, in the face of a political storm that has led to a significant decline in his popularity recently.
London – “The country is not run by corruption.” With these words, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood before journalists to defend the integrity and transparency of the political system in his country, after the scandal of conflict of interest and exploitation of the position to work in a “lobby” for private institutions that erupted in the British Parliament.
A crisis like this could not have passed without causing many political storms because of the symbolism of the British Parliament, which is the oldest democratic institution in the world, which made the popularity of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plummet to its lowest levels ever, due to what appeared to be an attempt to defend a parliamentarian from the party Conservatives involved in working with companies and pressure for their interests in Parliament.
What’s the story?
The story erupted when the Standards Committee in the British Parliament decided that Conservative MP Owen Patterson had breached the rules of parliamentary work, when he received significant sums of money in return for pleading for two British companies in the British Parliament.
The MP had previously held the position of environment minister under David Cameron’s government, and according to investigations, Patterson received an amount of 120 million pounds annually from each company in exchange for defending their interests in Parliament.
The investigation committee said that the representative, with the purpose of serving these two companies, met with officials from the British Food Standards Agency and the International Cooperation Agency in order to put pressure and promote the two companies.
The conservative deputy also failed to justify the use of his parliamentary office in other work that is not related to parliamentary functions, and did not explicitly announce that he would provide advice to the two companies during meetings with government officials, which the committee considered a “serious violation of laws and rules,” as the law prohibits conflict of interest or working within A “lobby” for any company.
After this explicit condemnation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to support a vote in Parliament to change the rules of the Standards Committee, and add a clause allowing any parliamentarian to respond to the conclusions reached by this competent committee, which many considered an attempt by Johnson to cover up a colleague in the party.
After this decision, the British Parliament will go through catastrophic and unprecedented hours in which the Conservative Party appeared as if it wanted to protect a deputy who was involved in a political scandal.
In the face of political and media anger, Johnson will decide to reverse his decision, as will the Conservative Party, which has an absolute majority in Parliament, after the concerned parliamentarian announced his decision to submit his resignation and insisted that he did not have the opportunity to respond and defend himself.
Although Johnson retracted his decision, his image was greatly affected by the people, as an opinion poll conducted by The Observer showed that his popularity fell to -20, the lowest level he obtained since his arrival in the government.
What about the rest of the parliamentarians?
British public opinion deals with the integrity of parliamentarians with a lot of sensitivity, which made the case of parliamentarian Owen Patterson explode a great debate about the income of parliamentarians in the country, to show that this file hides large incomes received by parliamentarians, albeit through “legal” means.
And an investigation by the Guardian newspaper (The Guardian) showed that more than 30 parliamentarians will have their incomes significantly affected if they are prevented from exercising other functions such as providing advice, because the law allows parliamentarians to provide advisory services in exchange for their authorization to the tax and financial services, and not engage in any “ Lobby” in favor of the institutions to which they provide advice.
According to the investigation, most of these parliamentarians belong to the “conservative” party, and among the highest-paid there is a parliamentarian who receives a total of $220,000 annually in return for providing advice for two companies.
There are warnings that there is a fine line between advising these companies and lobbying in their favour, which is why Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak called on parliamentarians to be more careful while doing another job. As for Labor Party leader Keir Starmer, he announced in 2017 his decision not to exercise any other job in order to avoid any suspicion.
Did you open new files?
An investigation by the British newspaper “The Sunday Times” has revealed accusations by the Conservative Party of misusing the “honours” system that allows certain personalities to be appointed to the House of Lords.
The investigation showed that the party is systematically awarding “lords” seats to a group of major donors to the party who pay more than 3.5 million dollars to it.
The investigation is heading to the fact that the Conservative Party sells seats in the House of Lords for this amount, and according to the data of this investigation, during the past 20 years, the party offered all 16 treasurers who passed the Conservatives a seat in the House of Lords, after they donated sums of up to 4 million dollars .
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously been accused of favoring his friends in the House of Lords appointment, including Peter Crodas, who is a major donor to the Conservative Party, despite official advice not to propose him for the position.