Owen Paterson has resigned as the MP for North Shropshire saying he intends to leave “the cruel world of politics” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed plans to prevent him immediate suspension. The former environment secretary released a statement on Thursday, November 4, announcing his intention to step down from a role he has held since 1997.
In his statement, the former environment secretary who worked under David Cameron maintained his innocence.
The statement read: “I have today, after consultation with my family, and with much sadness decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire.
“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. I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety. I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system.
“Far, far worse than having my honesty questioned was, of course, the suicide of my beloved and wonderful wife, Rose. She was everything to my children and me. We miss her everyday and the world will always be grey, sad and ultimately meaningless without her.
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“The last few days have been intolerable for us. Worst of all was seeing people, including MPs, publicly mock and deride Rose’s death and belittle our pain. My children have therefore asked me to leave politics altogether, for my sake as well as theirs. I agree with them. I do not want my wife’s memory and reputation to become a political football.
“Above all, I always put my family first. This is a painful decision but I believe the right one. I have loved being the MP for North Shropshire and have considered it a privilege to have been elected to serve my constituents for 24 years.
“I would like to thank my staff who have worked for me so loyally over many years. I also want to thank those who have stood by me so staunchly. I wish them all the best in that difficult but vital job of being a Member of Parliament.
“I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics. I intend to devote myself to public service in whatever ways I can but especially in the world of suicide prevention.
“At this incredibly difficult time for my family, we ask that the media respects our privacy and lets us grieve my beloved Rose, the best person I ever met.”
The Conservative MP released his resignation statement after a furious row over his proposed ban from the House of Commons.
The ongoing scandal was a result of a two-year investigation which claimed Mr Paterson broke lobbying rules during his £110,000-a-year private sector work.
Following the investigation, it was recommended the MP for North Shropshire be suspended from the Commons for 30 days.
Tory MPs voted in favour of a motion which would ignore Mr Paterson’s month-long Commons suspension this week – a decision which provoked the wrath and outrage of many MPs.
The Government was accused of “corruption” and “bias” in response to the motion and in the proposal for a new Standards Committee.
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In the face of a huge outcry, the Government undertook a U-turn on its decision on Thursday, promising a new vote on Mr Paterson’s suspension.
However, before the vote could be undertaken and just hours after the Government announced its intention to hold the vote, Mr Paterson resigned from his post.
Most pundits believe Mr Paterson was forced into his decision, knowing next week’s Commons vote on his suspension was certain to go against him.
Mr Paterson was last month found by a Commons watchdog to have “repeatedly used his privileged position” to benefit Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn’s Country Foods, a meat processor and distributor.