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Boris Johnson faces grilling by MPs over ‘sleaze’ scandals

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Boris Johnson appears before a UK parliamentary committee on Wednesday, under pressure over the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a row over “sleaze” that has rocked the ruling Conservative Party.

The British Prime Minister is also expected to be grilled on issues such as the COP26 summit and the state of the economy when he gives evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee.

Watch the session live in the video player above from 3 pm UK time (16.00 CET).

Johnson has promised to tighten ethics rules in response to scandals over politicians lobbying and having second jobs outside parliament, that have damaged UK politics.

On Tuesday he put forward proposals to bar members of Parliament from peddling influence and ensure that any outside work did not interfere with their duties.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, said Johnson’s measures appeared to be “a significant victory for us in our work to clean up politics”.

There were bad-tempered scenes at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday as Starmer attacked Johnson over conflicts of interest among MPs.

Politicians have received widespread criticism over second jobs since it was revealed that a former Conservative Attorney-General, Geoffrey Cox, earned £400,000 pounds (€476,000) a year as a lawyer while serving in Parliament.

Two weeks ago there was a furious backlash against the government after it tried to block the suspension of Owen Paterson, a Johnson ally who had been found to have breached parliamentary rules — and move to overhaul the standards process that had investigated his behaviour.

The outcry and revolt among Tory MPs brought an immediate U-turn, but the prime minister has been damaged by opposition accusations that he sees rules as fit for breaking.

Paterson resigned as an MP in the aftermath. Boris Johnson has admitted he could have handled the issue better while stopping short of an apology.

Amid the furore, the prime minister was forced onto the defensive at COP26, insisting that the UK “is not remotely a corrupt country”.

A series of opinion polls suggest that the Conservatives have lost their lead over Labour, while Johnson’s personal rating has plummeted.

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