Rishi Sunak: Government 'needs to do better' amid Tory 'sleaze' allegations

ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan reports on the latest developments over the controversy around MP's second jobs

The government "needs to do better" than last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said as allegations of "Tory sleaze" continue.

Mr Sunak's comment follows the government's attempt to change standards rules to prevent a Tory MP being suspended. as well as claims another MP breached parliamentary law by using his Commons office for a second job.

Mr Sunak told ITV News it "wouldn't be right to comment" on individual cases but said: "As a government, we need to do better than we did last week and we know that".

Mr Sunak weighs in on the recent allegations of Tory "sleaze"

Tory MP Owen Paterson was found by the Commons standards watchdog to have repeatedly broken lobbying rules. Last week, a majority of Conservatives voted to reject his suspension and decided the entire system for scrutinising MPs' behaviour needed to be overhauled.

This week, Geoffrey Cox, another Tory MP, refuted claims he broke parliamentary rules by taking a high paying external job and spending part of lockdown working from the British Virgin Islands.

As well as "sleaze", Mr Sunak addressed Britain's patchy recovery from the pandemic - official figures on Monday showed the UK's economic growth slowed sharply between July and September.

When asked if UK-specific supply chain problems had hampered growth, he insisted that countries across the world were facing similar issues.

Mr Sunak said: "There is also a problem in the United States, for example. When I speak to my US colleagues, they are also struggling with HGV drivers.

Mr Sunak admits the UK is facing supply chain shortages

"I’m not saying there’s not a challenge here - that’s why the government has taken action."

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the economy expanded by 1.3% between July and September, down from growth of 5.5% in the previous three months.

The ONS said growth picked up in September to a better-than-expected 0.6% but revisions showed the performance was worse than first thought in July and August, with signs the global supply chain issues were taking their toll.

Data showed a 0.2% contraction in July, against the 0.1% fall previously estimated, while August showed growth of 0.2%, against the 0.4% initial reading. Car sales, in particular, have been hit by a shortage of semi conductor chips, according to the ONS.

The third-quarter result means the economy is now 2.1% below where it was before the pandemic struck. Grant Fitzner, chief economist at the ONS, said: “Growth picked up in September and the UK economy is now only slightly below pre-pandemic levels.

The ONS singled out the struggling car industry.

“This latest increase was led by the health sector, boosted by more visits to GP surgeries in England. “Lawyers also had a busy month as house buyers rushed to complete purchases before the end of the stamp duty holiday. “However, these were partially offset by falls in both the manufacture and sale of cars. “Notably, business investment remained well down on pre-pandemic levels in the three months to September.”