OUTRAGE has greeted Boris Johnson’s refusal to rule out handing a peerage to the disgraced former Tory MP Owen Paterson.

Paterson, who was forced to step down after the UK Government U-turned on a victorious Commons vote to protect him from suspension, had been found to have lobbied ministers for two firms which paid him £100,000 per year.

While Paterson continues to deny wrongdoing, the scandal which erupted around him has seen further accusations of sleaze and corruption engulf Johnson’s government once again.

READ MORE: How the Owen Paterson sleaze scandal sums up the Tory government

However, despite the ignominious manner of his exit from politics, the Prime Minister refused to rule out handing the former North Shropshire MP a seat in the House of Lords.

Johnson’s official spokesperson repeatedly refused to deny on the record that the Prime Minister offered Paterson a peerage yesterday, or plans to give him one in the future.

It has also been reported that Tory MPs were told they would “lose funding for their constituency” if they didn’t vote with the UK Government to protect Paterson.

Commenting, SNP MP Pete Wishart (below) said: “Just like they did with Covid contracts, it seems the Tories will hand out peerages like sweeties to people - regardless of what they have done as long as they are one of their own.

The National: Pete Wishart

“It is an utter disgrace that the Prime Minister failed to rule out a peerage for an MP who was found to have broken important lobbying rules - and looks to be considering rewarding bad behaviour with a cushy £300-a-day seat in the unelected and undemocratic House of Lords.”

While positions in the House of Lords are not paid, peers have a right to claim expenses for each day that they speak in parliament.

Peers can claim a tax-free flat rate of up to £323 for each sitting day, a reduced rate of around £160, or not claim at all.

READ MORE: These are the MPs facing investigations into sleaze at Westminster

In 2019, each peer claimed an average of around £31,000, according to analysis from The Sunday Times.

Wishart went on: “Westminster is broken beyond repair and has become nothing more than a sleaze fest under Boris Johnson. It has been beset by scandal after scandal – with the Prime Minister and his Tory colleagues guilty of breaking the ministerial code, acting unlawfully, handing peerages to donors, contracts to cronies and special access to their pals.

“Scotland wants no part in the sleaze, cronyism and corruption which has become endemic in Westminster. The only way we can shake it off for good is to become an independent country.”