A “CLEAR pattern” of sleaze and cronyism is running through the Westminster government, the SNP have said.

Pete Wishart, the SNP’s longest serving MP, hit out at the UK Government after days of news dominated by reports of sleaze.

Last night Prime Minister Boris Johnson was even forced to declare the UK is “not remotely a corrupt country” during a press conference which was meant to be all about the UN’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted this morning that the UK Government has to “do better” as pressure mounts over MPs’ outside interests.

READ MORE: Tories accused of 'disgusting smear' of SNP MPs on trip to Gibraltar

There have been a number of news stories prompting controversy and calls for investigations ever since the attempt to overturn Owen Paterson’s suspension last week.

The standards committee had called for Paterson to be suspended for 30 days after he was found to have lobbied for two companies paying him more than £100,000.

But last Wednesday Tory MPs were told to vote for a new committee to consider a different appeals system and review Paterson’s recommended suspension. After a backlash from opposition parties, who refused to co-operate with a new committee, the Government U-turned – and shortly after that Paterson resigned.

Here's what has happened since then to keep the row going.

  • Tory MP and former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox has been under fire following the disclosure in a corruption inquiry that he stands to make more than £1 million – on top of his annual MP’s salary of £81,000 – representing the British Virgin Islands. Labour have also lodged a formal complaint with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after a video emerged showing him apparently taking part in one of the hearings remotely from his Commons office. It has also come out that Cox is claiming £22,000 a year in taxpayer funding to rent a London home while collecting thousands of pounds in rent letting out another property he owns in the capital. A spokeswoman for the MP said: “Sir Geoffrey has acted at all times within the rules set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.”

    The National:
  • It emerged that Mark Pawsey, Conservative MP for Rugby, spoke in Parliament in favour of plastic manufacturers at the same time as he was earning £30,000 a year working as the chairman of the Foodservice Packaging Association. Greenpeace questioned whether the MP had been acting in his constituents’ interests. Pawsey defended his actions, saying he had spent 30 years working in the food packaging sector. “In 2020 I was asked by the members of Foodservice Packaging Association to take on the role of chairman,” he said in a statement. “I immediately declared this interest on the register of Members’ Interests and have drawn attention to it on each occasion that I have spoken on matters relating to the sector in Parliament … At a time when the government is looking at the future role for packaging and bringing forward new rules and regulations, I believe it is helpful for someone with a long working experience of the sector to contribute to an important debate.”
  • Tory MP Alun Cairns, Vale of Glamorgan MP, secured a second job at diagnostics firm BBI Group before it became part of a consortium that secured a £75m government contract for lateral flow tests.
  • Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith was accused of a “brazen conflict of interest” as it emerged he held a £25,000-a-year job advising a hand sanitiser firm – after chairing a government taskforce recommending rules benefitting that company.

    The National:
  • The Metropolitan Police is “considering” calls for it to investigate so-called cash for honours allegations linked to Conservative Party peerage appointments. Wishart wrote to the Met calling for a police probe to focus on an Open Democracy and Sunday Times investigation which, among other claims, found nine of the party’s former treasurers have been elevated to the House of Lords since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010.

Wishart claimed it is now “beyond doubt” that these are not isolated incidents.

"Boris Johnson has said that those who break the rules 'must be investigated and should be punished' – he must now come good on his words and commit to a full public inquiry into rampant Tory sleaze and corruption at all levels, including at the very top,” he said.

"Those responsible must be held to account – including the Prime Minister himself.

READ MORE: Ben Wallace accused of 'political games' for not mentioning Tory MPs on army trip

"From being in the Caribbean and Cayman Islands rather than the Commons, lobbying for firms, lucrative Covid contracts, cash for curtains, texts for tax breaks, or luxury holidays paid for by mystery donors - the Tories are rotten to the core.

"The only way to get to the bottom of this sleaze-ridden swamp is with an immediate full public inquiry.

"Westminster is broken beyond repair. It's clear that the only way to escape the rampant Tory cronyism and sleaze is by becoming an independent country."