JACOB Rees-Mogg has said he encouraged the prime minister to back an amendment to save a former Tory MP from suspension because he felt he had been "punished enough" by his wife’s suicide.

The leader of the House of Commons and MP for North East Somerset added it had been a mistake to combine the wider issue of standards reform with the specific case involving former North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson.

Mr Paterson resigned as an MP after he was found to have breached lobbying rules in relation to two companies that were paying him more than £100,000 a year.

He was defended by some of his Conservative colleagues, and former minister Dame Andrea Leadsom proposed an amendment – which was passed – that would have reviewed his specific case and set up a committee to look at the entire standards system.

Following a backlash and oppostion parties refusing to cooperate, the Government made a U-turn - prompting Mr Paterson’s resignation.

The amendment would have been rescinded on Monday night but Sir Christopher Chope, Conservative MP for Christchurch, blocked it.  

The Commons is due to debate the matter tonight (Tuesday, November 16). 

Speaking on The Moggcast, Mr Rees-Mogg's podcast, he said: "I must take my share of responsibility for this.

"I thought it was the right thing to do, I encouraged the prime minister to go down this route, and I was wrong, I made a mistake."

He said "in hindsight" it was a "really obvious mistake to have made". 

Somerset County Gazette: HOUSE LEADER: North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (Image: Stefan Rousseau, PA Wire)HOUSE LEADER: North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg speaks at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester (Image: Stefan Rousseau, PA Wire)

Mr Rees-Mogg added: "I felt that Owen had been punished enough by the death of his wife, and therefore allowed this conflation to take place in my mind."

Mr Paterson’s wife, Rose, took her own in life last year and the former MP had suggested this was, in part, due to the investigation against him.

The North East Somerset MP said: "It was not seen by the electorate as being merciful, it was seen as being self-serving."

He said MPs from other parties had expressed concerns to him about the standards system. 

Mr Rees-Mogg said: "There was a more general feeling beyond Conservative MPs that things weren’t working quite as they should and that left members of parliament at the sharp end of a system that was weighted against them.

"And whether that’s right or not, that was the feeling that was being represented to me."

On the Moggcast, he said there was a difficult discussion about MPs holding second jobs and if that should be allowed. 

However, he said MPs are not always accountable to their constituents for their behaviour at ballot boxes because they "overwhelmingly" vote for parties rather than candidates.

He said: "I think we always want to remember that we are accountable to voters.

"Now, there’s a problem with this, isn’t there? Which we know very well.

"That on election day, when people go to the polling station, they are not voting for Jacob Rees-Mogg, they’re voting for the Conservative Party, overwhelmingly, and this is true in every constituency.

"And people stand there not thinking, does my MP behave well or not? But thinking, do I want Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 Downing Street?

"And so the General Election is not necessarily a point at which the individual behaviour is being focused on."

Ministers and Number 10 have said being an MP should be a politician’s primary job, but it is up to voters to decide if they are happy with their individual MP.