The former Cabinet minister was found to have committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules on behalf of two companies by the cross-party Standards Committee. But, with the backing of the Government, MPs voted against suspending Mr Paterson and in favour of changing the system for investigating standards breaches altogether.
Mr Paterson has denied the charges made against him and has called on the parliamentary standards commissioner to quit.
The Government’s backing of his position has received fierce backlash from all sides.
Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer wrote in the Guardian that the behaviour of the Tories needs to be called out for what it is: “Corruption.”
“The blase manner in which [the Tory party] acts, the Trump-like attempts to fix the system to its own benefit, the complicity of those who justify and enable it, shows that it is now, inevitably, covered in fleas.”
The BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, makes it clear, however, that criticism of the Government isn’t just coming from the opposition benches.
“The blowback to yesterday is intense,” she wrote on Twitter.
“One tory insider says ‘people are going absolutely mad’ at what looks to many like a terrible calculation.”
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Another was even more blunt, saying: “Well it’s s**t, isn’t it?”
The motion to reject the verdict of the parliamentary standards commissioner was tabled by former Cabinet minister and one-time candidate for Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom.
In a debate held before the vote, Tory MP Aaron Bell told Mrs Leadsom that “by bringing her amendment today, it looks like we are moving the goalposts”.
But the Prime Minister’s press secretary says the vote was about more than Mr Paterson’s suspension.
“This isn’t about one individual case and we’re not having a view on the ruling or looking to overturn the ruling.
“It is argued that setting up an appeals mechanism would strengthen the regime, and some members of the Commons have lost confidence in the current system and we need to strengthen that and provide fairness for all Members of Parliament.”
Despite this, the Government now appears to be having second thoughts, and Ms Kuenssberg states in an article for the BBC that “some ministers already fear this is an episode that Downing Street may come to regret”.