Tory MP loses her job after abstaining on Owen Paterson vote

3 November 2021, 23:42 | Updated: 4 November 2021, 07:14

Angela Richardson said she was 'aware that my job was at risk'.
Angela Richardson said she was 'aware that my job was at risk'. Picture: UK Parliament/Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

By James Morris

A Conservative MP has lost her job after abstaining on the vote which saw Owen Paterson avoid suspension over a breach of lobbying rules.

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Angela Richardson confirmed she is no longer a parliamentary aide to ministers following her decision to abstain on the amendment to overhaul the Commons' disciplinary process, and prevent the immediate suspension of Tory MP Mr Paterson.

Ms Richardson, who was elected to represent Guildford in 2019, wrote on Twitter: "I abstained on the #LeadsomAmendment today aware that my job was at risk, but it was a matter of principle for me."

Labour MP Jess Phillips said that it is "amazing that she's the one to lose her job".

Ms Richardson was initially appointed a parliamentary private secretary for education ministers and then recently for communities secretary Michael Gove.

Mr Gove could be seen sharing a few words with Ms Richardson in the Commons chamber during a later vote.

Read more: 'It reeks': Enraged MPs attack Tories as Owen Paterson avoids suspension

In an unprecedented move, MPs had voted not to back the House of Commons standards committee's call for a six-week ban from Parliament for Mr Paterson, after it found he repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.

MPs backed an amendment calling for a review of his case after Conservatives were ordered to support the bid and Boris Johnson questioned whether the investigation into Mr Paterson was fair.

Owen Paterson pictured in December 2019.
Owen Paterson pictured in December 2019. Picture: Getty

Mr Paterson said the move would allow him to clear his name after "two years of hell", but anti-corruption campaigners, unions, political observers and opposition MPs condemned the decision, with the Tories accused of "wallowing in sleaze".

Mr Paterson, the MP for North Shropshire, could have faced a possible by-election if the suspension had been approved.

He said: "All I have ever asked is to have the opportunity to make my case through a fair process. The decision today in Parliament means that I will now have that opportunity."

Additional reporting by PA.