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Guildford’s MP Sacked as PPS and Restored Within Hours, As Government Reconsiders Standards Proposal

Published on: 4 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 31 Jan, 2022

By Martin Giles

Within hours of Guildford MP Angela Richardson being removed from her position as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Gove, she has been reappointed.

This morning she tweeted:

Angela Richardson’s tweet

Her removal from her position as PPS to Mr Gove, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, followed her decision to abstain yesterday (November 3, 2021) in the controversial parliamentary vote on an amendment that would change the way MP standards are policed. The position of PPS is seen as the lowest rung of government appointments.

Definition of a PPS as published on the UK Parliament website.

Thirteen Conservative MPs rebelled, breaking a three-line whip to vote against the amendment and an unprecedented 109 Conservative MPs abstained from the vote, although some were absent from parliament to attend the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Sir Paul Beresford (MP for Mole Valley) also abstained. Michael Gove (MP for Surrey Heath) and Jonathan Lord (MP for Woking) supported the government.

Following the backlash, the government today has U-turned on its plans and says it will reconsider.

Sallie Barker, chair of Guildford Conservatives said: “We support Angela’s principled stance on this issue and we have no doubt that it will be ‘business as usual’ in the constituency with Angela’s hard work supporting local residents as always.”

Zoe Franklin

Zöe Franklin who speaks for Guildford Lib Dems on Parliamentary matters said: “Abstaining in a vote to get another Tory MP off the hook for engaging in paid lobbying and breaking parliamentary standards rules is not a ‘principled stand’. Instead, it is very much ‘trying to avoid getting in trouble’ by sitting on your hands in the hope that you’ll get to keep your job and avoid angering constituents. And, frankly, trying to convince Guildford constituents that an abstention was a principled approach is simply insulting.

“If Angela Richardson wanted to take a principled stance she should have voted against as a handful of other, more honourable, Conservative MPs did. Certainly, giving up your PPS role with a fanfare and then gladly accepting a reinstatement in the space of 16 hours is not the act of an honourable person putting constituents ahead of personal advancement.”

“Not only did we see the Conservatives showing utter disregard for the rules that hold them to account, we have MPs claiming they are putting their own ambitions aside for the good of the country, only to accept a position in the government whose actions they claim to so fundamentally disagree with.

“The voters will not be fooled so easily, but it should not take public outrage to make the government do the right thing. We look forward to seeing more of these ‘principles’ in action in the emergency debate, secured today by the Liberal Democrats, on Monday in the House of Commons.”

Background

Crawley MP Toby Perkins (Labour) angrily brandishing cash at the government in reference to Mr Paterson’s paid lobbying – Image UK Parliament

The BBC reported: “The Commons Standards Committee and its commissioner concluded last week that Tory MP Mr Paterson (North Shropshire) was found to have misused his position as an MP to benefit two firms he worked for.

“As a result, they recommended he be suspended from the Commons for 30 sitting days – a sanction that could also lead to a recall petition in his constituency, and the possibility of him facing a by-election.

“Such recommendations – which have to be signed off by MPs – are usually accepted without much discussion.

“But on Wednesday, the government ordered its members to vote for an amendment to halt Mr Paterson’s case and to rejig the standards system.

“Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems voted against the plans, along with 13 Conservative MPs, while dozens of Tories abstained.

“But it was carried by 18 votes after a heated Commons debate, to cries of “shame” from the opposition benches.”

Ms Richardson has been invited to comment.

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test 3 Responses to Guildford’s MP Sacked as PPS and Restored Within Hours, As Government Reconsiders Standards Proposal

  1. Sam Peters Reply

    November 4, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    If Angela Richardson’s vote was ‘a matter of principles’, as she claims, she would have voted against the amendment alongside 13 of her Conservative colleagues.

    Owen Paterson lobbied for two companies for years, one of which received nearly £500 million in Covid contracts despite having no expertise in the field. The case has been called the worst ever lobbying scandal, with the inquiry stating ‘no previous case has seen so many breaches’. Abstaining on a vote into this level of flagrant corruption is condoning corruption, plain and simple.

    This is just the latest climb down in a seemingly endless series of “governance by u-turn”, following on from last week’s lacklustre concession after the sewage debacle. The reinstatement of Richardson’s PPS role is no surprise, viewed in this light. Coupled with the fact that some MPs are now claiming this vote in fact had nothing to do with Paterson, and was just “unfortunate timing”, it is just another demonstration of how little respect they have for their constituents and the public in general.

    Sam Peters is a member of The Green Party and former borough council candidate

  2. Mike Dent Reply

    November 4, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    How anyone can see Angela Richardson’s stance as a principled one is beyond me. If she had principles she would have voted against the amendment and she would not have accepted a re-appointment to her role as PPS the very next day.

    I also have no doubt it will be business as usual for this MP in Guildford, ignoring her constituents and continuing to vote against their interests.

    This sudden change of heart to adhere to self-appointed ‘principles’ shows a cynical attempt to fool constituents that she is listening following protests and social media backlashes against her voting record, most recently the one in favour of dumping raw sewage. It won’t work.

  3. RWL Davies Reply

    November 6, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Pragmatically and shrewdly Ms. Richardson got it absolutely right.

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