Why the row over MPs’ second jobs is such a headache for Boris Johnson


Jeffrey Cox continues to be criticized for his extensive legal career – the Guardian tally all of his legitimate earnings during his tenure as a Member of Parliament and found that he made a steep £ 6 million in outside work.

Cox made a defiant statement about his extracurricular activities, stating that they were known to the main whip and that his legal activities in the British Virgin Islands had been approved by the current attorney general.

The hard truth for the government is that for all its irritation and frustration with Cox, the Torridge and West Devon MP’s legal work has long been part of a bargain for prominent lawyers joining the House of Commons and former attorneys … All in all, even more so: keep practicing the law, and after you’ve worked as a senior government official, you have an even better, more lucrative and / or efficient set of cases to choose from than before.

Of course, much of the behavior that angered voters during the spending scandal was part of a similar “deal.” Indeed, a member of parliament on the bench, earning £ 30,000 as chairman of the packaging group, asserts in the House of Commons that “it is not the packaging manufacturer that is the source of pollution, but the people,” as Stefan Boscha shows in his book CityAM Conservative MP Mark Posey has long viewed this as part of a “deal” for government officials. And former ministers make £ 425 an hour working for an aerospace company while advocating for increased defense spending like Billy Kenber, George Greenwood and NS graduate George Grills reveals in Once Conservative MP Philip Dunn is also part of a “deal” for dismissed or displaced ministers.

When it comes to voter anger, I suspect, people can immediately tell the difference between these stories and the accountant or lawyer continuing his short-term practice, or the doctor or nurse doing something similar as an MP. Anyone who creates a business and continues to run it as an MP may even use it as an asset from a political point of view. Cox may well be right in saying that in fact his constituents are well aware of his legitimate activities and they don’t care – if they are not, I suspect that his electoral problem will have to do with the scale of his second job, not its existence. …

But these little minor gigs … I think for most people they just look and smell bad. The problem for the government is that the side effects, while not exclusive to that government, are usually largely exclusive to the ruling party because there is little value in trying to influence the decisions of an opposition MP when the government has an overwhelming majority.

Another challenge for the government is that anyone can play the second job game – just sit down with the register of interests, open the relevant MP’s page on the parliament’s website, and see if you can find a conflict of interest in any of them. their written questions or their statements to the Chamber. And it is not entirely clear whether the government can end this game, other than by imposing additional restrictions that create internal problems for the Prime Minister, or because this story has been removed from the agenda by some new and deeper crisis.

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