The West Country Debate November: Sleaze allegations, transport and the COP26 pact

  • Watch November's edition of The West Country Debate

The Prime Minister has admitted to Conservative MPs he made a mistake saying he 'crashed the car into a ditch' triggering an onslaught of sleaze allegations aimed at his party.

Boris Johnson was referring to his attempts to change parliamentary standards rules which led to a very public U-turn, a high-profile resignation and his own attempts to crackdown on MPs' second jobs.

It comes as world leaders stuttered towards an agreement to limit global warming.

On the panel for November's edition of The West Country Debate:

  • Rebecca Pow MP, Conservative, Taunton Deane and Environment Minister

  • Luke Pollard MP, Labour, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport and Shadow Environment Secretary

  • Cllr Carla Denyer, Bristol City Council and Co-leader of The Green Party

Sleaze allegations

MPs have backed preliminary plans to tighten rules around second jobs for MPs.

It followed two weeks of sleaze headlines aimed at the Conservative party, after the Prime Minister attempted to change parliamentary standards rules to save the career of former cabinet minister Owen Paterson.

The Torridge and West Devon MP Sir Geoffrey Cox is also facing criticism for earning hundreds of thousands of pounds as a lawyer alongside his MP role. 

He says he has done nothing wrong and regularly works 70 hour weeks, always putting his constituents first. 

Rebecca Pow MP said: "MPs should not be engaging in any kind of political lobbying or anything where they might use their role to influence decisions and quite clearly that should not be happening and that's why we voted through this motion."

Luke Pollard MP said: "MPs should not have second jobs. That's my view. There are a few number of exceptions - such as an A&E doctor or a nurse... This is an unspeakable mess that stinks of sleaze."


The Prime Minister spent much of Thursday touring railway lines across the midlands and the North as he unveils his plans to spend almost £100billion pounds speeding up journeys there.

It comes after the Transport Secretary reopened the Okehampton to Exeter line - something he described as the proudest moment in his role. But with so much cash announced for other parts of the country some of our politicians are angry the region is being left out.

Cllr Carla Denyer said: "The South West is woefully underserved on public transport. A lot of people would like to go greener, use buses, walk and cycle but they can't because they're trapped in a car dependent system because the public transport is just so bad."

Rebecca Pow MP said: "We say to the Chancellor - the South West has to be included in the levelling up agenda. The line has been electrified from Paddington to Cardiff. We have got so many more trains on those lines. We have the Dartmoor line now as well which is extraordinary."

COP26 Pact

The COP26 climate change summit had to go into extra time last week to agree a watered down deal - which experts say will fail to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

But progress was made on deforestation, the reduction of coal and promises of more even stronger commitments next year - so is there some cause for optimism?

Carla Denyer said: "It fundamentally fails because it does not compel countries to introduce carbon pricing of any kind. We've been pushing for carbon tax which is a very popular policy."

Rebecca Pow MP said: "While it wasn't everything we wanted a huge step was made. Even in the wording 'phase down coal' because this has never got into a COP agreement ever before."

Luke Pollard MP said: "It is very difficult getting an agreement which is why the host of the country needs to step up. We need an urgency which we're not seeing. We're getting plenty of soundbites but no action."