Sir Keir Starmer says Boris Johnson is “leading his troops through the sewer” after the Owen Paterson controversy.
Earlier this week the prime minister tried to push a vote through the House of Commons to change the way MPs are disciplined in a bid to block the suspension of Conservative backbencher Owen Paterson.
There was a backlash from opposition parties to the calls, leading to a U-turn and to Mr Paterson resigning as the MP for North Shropshire.
The leader of the opposition at Westminster says the actions taken this week shows Boris Johnson is not capable of cleaning up ‘Tory sleaze’ and corruption in politics.
‘Corrupt, contemptible and not a one-off’
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir said: “Instead of upholding standards, he ordered his MPs to protect his mate and rip up the whole system – that is corrupt, it is contemptible, and it’s not a one-off.
“When there was sleaze in the mid-1990s, John Major rolled up his sleeves and he put in place the Nolan committee on standards in public life.
“He was the prime minister who said ‘I will clear this up’.
“Boris Johnson is the prime minister who is leading his troops through the sewer – he’s up to his neck in this.
“I don’t think anybody could with a straight face say this prime minister is the man to clean up politics and to have the highest standards in public life because he is in the sewer with his troops.”
PM has ‘one rule for him and his mates’
Sir Keir added the Owen Paterson controversy also shows the prime minister has always had “one rule for him and his mates” his entire life.
He added: “There is a whiff that the prime minister would quite like the scrutiny and the standards to be weakened because they are looking too closely at him.
“If this is a one-off then you could view it in a particular way.
“But this is a prime minister with so many examples of him ignoring findings and the sense that he has had all of his life that there is one rule for him and his mates and another rule for everybody else is still there, but at the top of government.”
Calls for ministers to consider positions
On the show UK Environment Secretary George Eustice also indicated the calls to change the disciplinary processes at Westminster and the subsequent U-turn would have come from Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, Boris Johnson, the chief whip and other advisers.
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire also says Mr Rees-Mogg’s position is now “untenable” and says if she was in that situation, she would now be considering her position.
She added: “I hope that Boris Johnson also considers his position this weekend and takes the steps he needs to repair the reputation – that he’s damaged – of politics.”