Boris Johnson Does Not Back 'Outright Ban' On MPs' Second Jobs, Says No.10

Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox is under pressure for earning hundreds of thousands of pounds working for a tax haven.
Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general, is under pressure over his second jobs.
Geoffrey Cox, the former attorney general, is under pressure over his second jobs.
Nick Ansell via PA Media

Boris Johnson has rejected imposing a ban on MPs holding second jobs, despite the backlash over Westminster sleaze.

It was revealed on Tuesday that Tory MP Geoffrey Cox earned hundreds of thousands of pounds giving legal advice the British Virgin Islands.

He was hired to defend the islands in an inquiry launched by the UK Foreign Office.

According to the Daily Mail, the former attorney general took part in Commons votes by proxy while working from the Caribbean during the pandemic.

The ability of MPs to hold second jobs on top of their work in parliament came under scrutiny after Owen Paterson was found to have broken sleaze rules by lobbying ministers on behalf of two companies he worked for.

But No.10 said the prime minister “doesn’t back an outright ban on second jobs”.

“A ban on second jobs will catch those who still work in roles such as doctors and nurses,” the PM’s spokesperson said.

Downing Street added parliament “can and historically has” benefited from MPs having second jobs but that parliamentary duties should “take priority”.

“MP’s primary job is and must be to serve their constituents and to represent their interests in parliament”.

“If they’re not doing that, they’re not doing their job and will rightly be judged on that by their constituents.”

Labour meanwhile has called on Johnson to launch an urgent investigation into Cox’s activities.

In a letter to the prime minister, Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s chair, said: “It appears that your former attorney general is profiting from advising an administration accused of corruption and tax avoidance.

“The people of Torridge and West Devon must be wondering if Geoffrey Cox is a Caribbean-based barrister or a Conservative MP.”

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast that were “very strict rules” surrounding MPs’ second jobs and that it is “respectable and legitimate” for them to carry them out.