Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely abstained, instead of voting yes or no, on an amendment that aimed to stop the suspension of a fellow Conservative MP.

The Standards Committee ruled Owen Paterson, who was employed by two companies, was found to have breached lobbying rules during meetings with the Department for International Development and the Food Standards Agency.

Conservative MPs were told to support an amendment that would have stopped him being suspended for 30 days.

It was argued the system was it was unfair and that Mr Paterson had not been given a chance to defend himself.

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However, a handful of Tory MPs rebelled and voted against that amendment, while Bob Seely opted for a third option.

Mr Seely said on Twitter: "I did not support the Government; but abstained.

"I was going to vote with, but after listening to the Father of the House, I changed my mind.

"We need to respect the current system until we have put in place a better one."

Mr Seely's abstention was criticised by councillor and former Labour parliamentary candidate Richard Quigley - who wanted the MP to vote no.

Mr Quigley tweeted: "He almost did it, very very nearly, but in the end, he didn't.

"I'm not surprised, but beyond disappointed."

The Labour Party had questioned the timing of Tory support for changes to the way MPs are disciplined, accusing them of corruption.

Today, the government appeared to climb down from its decision, which was passed despite the rebellion.

PA reported the Commons Leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg, told MPs he would seek "cross-party" changes to the system and suggested the amendment may not "apply retrospectively" after all.

Lord Evans, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said plans for a Tory-led review into the disciplinary process for MPs were “deeply at odds with the best traditions of British democracy,” PA reported.

Mr Rees Mogg said he recognised standards must be reformed on a cross-party basis and acknowledged "that is clearly not the case" with the Government’s proposals.

"I fear last night’s debate conflated an individual case with the general concern. This link needs to be broken," he said.


Owen Paterson has resigned as an MP.