Exclusive: Jeremy Corbyn says ‘far-sighted’ 2019 Labour manifesto would have stopped Owen Paterson scandal

The former Labour leader has said his 2019 manifesto called for a ban on MPs holding second jobs, and described the vision as “far-sighted”.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told LondonWorld his “far-sighted” 2019 manifesto would have stopped the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal.

It comes the day after the ex-minister resigned as an MP, following a fierce backlash to a Parliamentary vote to stop his 30-day suspension for breaking lobbying rules.

This saw the prime minister and the Conservative Party inundated with sleaze accusations.

Now Mr Corbyn, the independent MP for Islington North after being suspended from the Labour Party following his comments on the anti-semitism scandal in October 2020, described the government’s actions as “appalling” and warned of a “descent into corruption and cronyism”.

Mr Corbyn, a longstanding Labour backbencher, was elected leader in 2015 and led his party into the 2019 general election, which was Labour’s worst defeat for 84 years.

He told LondonWorld: “Our 2019 manifesto included a proposal that MPs would be barred from taking second jobs.

“This is an example of how far sighted our manifesto was.

“What has been done by the government is appalling.

“Not only did they renege on the system of independent scrutiny, but they attacked the official whose job it was to undertake the examination.

“The speaker of the house quite rightly defended the independence of the office.”

He continued: “There has to be scrutiny of all public officials and I’m not sure that the Conservative Party fully understands that.

“It’s up to Parliament to ensure that scrutiny is done by an independent institution, free from corruption.”

And he added: “We’ve already had quite enough of massive contracts being handed out during the pandemic to companies who have already made significant donations to the Conservative party.

“We have to clean up our act to ensure we don’t descend into a morass of corruption and cronyism.”

Mr Paterson said in a statement yesterday: “I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics.

“The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me.

“My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned.”

While current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, writing in the i paper, described the prime minister as lighting a “bonfire of corruption”

He said: “It suits the Tories to pretend that all politics is a sewer.

“It lowers public expectations and allows them to get away with it.

Labour wants a tougher system, one that can restore faith in our democracy and our political system.

“Our politics should be a beacon of what is good and what is possible.

“MPs are rightly held to a higher standard.

“The first thing the prime minister should now do is say sorry.”

Speaking on a broadcast round this morning, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News: “The prime minister has always been very clear that paid lobbying is not allowed.

“The mistake is the conflation of creating a fairer system with the right of appeal for parliamentarians to be able to put forward an appeal process. Conflating that with the particular case of Owen Paterson was a mistake and it was right to come back very quickly to the house and say we need to separate these things out.

“We have to take collective responsibility as parliamentarians. It’s a process that parliamentarians voted for.”

He also told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that it was “absolutely not true” that Boris Johnson was trying to pre-empt a possible investigation by standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, into how the redecoration of his flat at No10 Downing Street was paid for

While he told BBC Breakfast: “The important thing to remember is that parliament as the legislative chamber of our country has absolutely the right to look at and improve the system.”