BORIS Johnson is trying to undermine Westminster’s sleaze watchdogs because of his own run-ins with the standards system, Sir Keir Starmer has claimed.

The Labour leader said the Prime Minister was unable to clean up Westminster because he is “up to his neck in this”.

Cabinet minister George Eustice dismissed the situation which has developed since the Owen Paterson case as a “storm in a teacup”, but anger within the Tory ranks has led to pressure on the Prime Minister.

Starmer said: “Instead of upholding standards, he ordered his MPs to protect his mate and rip up the whole system – that is corrupt, it is contemptible and it’s not a one-off.”

READ MORE: COP26 protests: Marchers from around the globe join Glasgow protests

Asked about Johnson’s future, Starmer said he is “angry” as the reputation of the country and democracy is being “trashed” by the Prime Minister.

He went on: “When there was sleaze in the mid-1990s John Major rolled up his sleeves and he put in place the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life – so he was the prime minister who said ‘I will clear this up’.

“Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister who is leading his troops through the sewer – he’s up to his neck in this.”

Labour are pushing for Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone to investigate the refurbishment of Johnson’s Downing Street flat and his Marbella holiday in a villa owned by the family of environment minister Lord Goldsmith.

The Prime Minister has already been admonished by the commissioner on four occasions, most recently over a £15,000 holiday to the island of Mustique between December 26 2019 and January 5 2020, but this was later overturned by the Committee on Standards.

The National:

Starmer said: “There is a whiff that the Prime Minister would quite like the scrutiny and the standards to be weakened because they are looking too closely at him.”

He claimed the Prime Minister had a sense there is “one rule for him and his mates and another rule for everybody else”.

Environment Secretary Eustice said the issue of the luxury Downing Street flat renovations had already been examined by Lord Geidt, the independent adviser on ministers’ interests and “put to bed”, suggesting there was no need for Stone to look at it.

He told the Andrew Marr Show: “It’s not her role to implement the ministerial code, it’s very much around parliamentary standards and MPs."

Issues around standards have dominated debate in Westminster after the Government sought to prevent former Cabinet minister Paterson facing an immediate suspension over an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules, instead backing the creation of a Tory-led committee to look again at the case and overhaul the standards system.

READ MORE: Unionist campaign given £46k in ‘dark money’ by donor to get the SNP out

Ministers backed down following a backlash, prompting Paterson to quit the Commons.

Eustice acknowledged the Government had “made a mistake” but told Sky News: “What we have seen is a Westminster storm in a teacup.”

Labour also called for Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg to quit over his role in the debacle.

Opposition parties stepped up attacks on the Government over a Sunday Times report which showed 15 of the last 16 of the Conservative Party’s treasurers have been offered a seat in the Lords having each donated more than £3 million to the party.

The most controversial appointment was that of Lord Cruddas, who took his seat after Johnson rejected the advice of the House of Lords Appointment Commission not to grant him a peerage.

The National:

Paterson resigned last week after the government's U-turn

An ex-party chairman told the newspaper: “The most telling line is once you pay your £3 million, you get your peerage.”

The Tories have denied any link between the donations and the nominations to sit in the Lords, with Mr Eustice claiming their expertise made them “valuable” members of the Upper Chamber.

Eustice said: “They are philanthropists who give huge amounts to charity, who have been very successful in business and, therefore, on those grounds ought to be considered for the Lords.”

Senior SNP MP Pete Wishart said the police should investigate the Sunday Times’ claims.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross to visit Haghill drug recovery group

“The Metropolitan Police should launch a fresh cash for honours investigation to determine whether a criminal offence has been committed,” he said.

“It is utterly appalling that so many millionaire Tory Party donors have been handed life peerages by Boris Johnson and his predecessors.”

The events surrounding the Paterson case have led to questions in Tory ranks about the Prime Minister’s judgment.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood wrote in The Sun that Johnson risks ending up as “just another former occupant of No 10” if he takes Parliament for granted.

The National:

Johnson is now facing corruption allegations

He said: “There is genuine rage within the ranks.

“Constituents have been rightly appalled by what they have seen. One system for MPs, another for the public.”

Another former minister Caroline Nokes – a prominent critic of  Johnson – wrote in the Sunday Mirror: “If my postbag is anything to go by, the public think the PM’s decision to circle his wagons and attack Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone well and truly stinks. And it does.”

High Peak MP Robert Largan, one of the new generation of Tory MPs elected in 2019, criticised Eustice’s attempts to downplay the row, telling Times Radio: “I don’t think it’s very helpful to say ‘oh, it’s just a storm in a teacup’. In my view this was something that we got badly wrong.”

On Saturday former prime minister Sir John Major delivered a withering assessment of the “shameful” Government, claiming  Johnson’s administration was “perhaps politically corrupt”.

We also told how Nicola Sturgeon condemned suggestions that Paterson may be given a peerage.

And, leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg was told to step down after trying unsucessfully to save Paterson's skin.