* I was away from the Parliamentary Estate with the Transport Select Committee as part of our investigation into the UK aviation sector.
While I was unable to vote, I was paired by the whips office with a Conservative MP. Pairing is a long-established practice that enables MPs from opposing parties to be away from the House of Commons without affecting the result of the vote.
Below are my views on this issue*
County Durham Conservative MPs Dehenna Davison (Bishop Auckland), Richard Holden (North West Durham) and Paul Howell (Sedgefield) voted to protect and stop the suspension of Tory MP Owen Paterson despite a committee finding he had been paid £112,000 to lobby on behalf of private companies.
This vote and endorsement of Tory sleaze is shameful. I am sure the local Tory trio will have a high-mind principle for voting the way they did, in the same way they had when giving water companies the right to pollute our rivers and sea.
However, the same has happened again. Less than a day after following the marching orders of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg to cover up Tory sleaze, a public outcry has got Ministers spinning into another u-turn to rethink plans to overhaul the policing of MPs conduct.
We have a Government and a Conservative Party devoid of honour and principle. One day they cover up Tory sleaze, within 24 hours they backtrack and 48 hours on he is gone.
The County Durham Tory trio, who are very loyal members of the Conservative Government, has once again been thrown under Boris Johnson’s big red bus. Their flip flop has exposed the lack of values and principles at the core of modern-day Conservativism.
The public deserves better, parliament deserves better, I can even go as far as saying the County Durham Tory trio deserves better, than a Prime Minister demanding they cover-up of political corruption on Wednesday and by Thursday morning saying they were wrong to back his demands.
It is disappointing that this latest incident shows our local Tories will vote for absolutely anything they are told to do, irrespective of the damage it does to our democracy or local communities.