Jacob Rees-Mogg slams Labour's proposed crackdown on MP second jobs

Boris Johnson calls for a BAN on MPs being paid political consultants as he tries to outflank Keir Starmer in bitter sleaze row – with Labour saying almost ALL second jobs should ruled out

  • Boris Johnson has called for ban on MPs holding paid political consultancies
  • PM trying to outflank Keir Starmer who’s calling for almost all second jobs to end
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg has questioned where line should be drawn on second jobs
  • Mr Johnson said the ‘primary job’ of MPs should be to ‘serve constituencies’ 

Boris Johnson today insisted MPs should be banned from being paid consultants or lobbyists as he moved to outflank Keir Starmer on sleaze.

The PM has written to Speaker Lindsay Hoyle proposing a dramatic overhaul of the rules to crack down on abuses of the system – that could hit the interests of a number of Tory MPs.    

The move came as Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, prepares to force a vote in the House of Commons tomorrow that could ban MPs from holding paid directorships and commercial consultancies. 

Sir Keir told a press conference minutes after the premier’s call emerged that almost all second jobs should be ruled out, saying ‘enough is enough’.  

Mr Johnson said in his letter that the Code of Conduct should be updated, and endorsed previous findings from the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

He said the changes should ensure ‘MPs who are prioritising outside interests over their constituents are investigated and appropriately punished’. 

Mr Johnson also said he wanted MPs ‘banned from acting as paid political consultants or lobbyists’. 

Unaware of the PM’s intervention, Sir Keir used a press conference to accuse Mr Johnson of ‘corroding trust in our parliament and the belief that politics is a force for good.’

He added: ‘It’s time to ban MPs from being paid directors and commercial consultants. That should not be a controversial situation.’

But on being informed of the shift from Mr Johnson, Sir Keir joked: ‘So we have won the vote tomorrow already?’  

He added: ‘If he is accepting the motion in full, that’s a significant victory for us in our work to clear up politics. But I would need to look at how he has put it.’ 

Sir Keir is pushing the issue in the wake of the Westminster sleaze scandal, triggered by the Owen Paterson lobbying row, which has battered the Conservatives in recent weeks. 

The Labour leader has said it should be a ‘point of consensus that paid directorships and commercial consultancies are not jobs for MPs’ and ‘the only people MPs should be lobbying for is their constituents’. 

The PM has written to Speaker Lindsay Hoyle proposing a dramatic overhaul of the rules to crack down on abuses of the system – that could hit the interests of a number of Tory MPs

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is planning to force a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to try to ban MPs from holding paid directorships and commercial consultancies

Downing Street today insisted that Boris Johnson believes the ‘primary job’ of MPs ‘must be to serve their constituencies’

Mr Paterson was found by a standards watchdog to have committed an ‘egregious’ breach of standards rules by directly advocating for two companies while they were paying him more than £100,000 per year.

The Government blocked his recommended 30-day suspension from Parliament before performing a U-turn after a ferocious backlash, with Mr Paterson then opting to quit as the Tory MP for North Shropshire. 

Labour is planning to use an Opposition Day debate in the Commons tomorrow to vote on ending paid directorships and commercial consultancies in Parliament. 

But Jacob Rees-Mogg has questioned the viability of Labour’s proposals, telling the Conservative Home Moggcast podcast: ‘Where do you draw the line? Let me give you a specific example. I am a trustee of the Oxford Union Literary and Debating Trust which is the parent charity of the Oxford Union Society, Oxford’s debating organisation.

‘It promotes free speech, it supports a very good, active charitable educational objective.

‘It takes up a small amount of time each year, it is unpaid. Should MPs be able to be trustees of charities? I think most people would say yes, that is a perfectly reasonable role for them to be involved in.

‘But what if they are involved with a charity that is a little bit more work and they actually get paid for it? Should they be involved in that?

‘If you say yes, they should be involved in that, can they be doctors? And if you say well yes they can be doctors… are they then allowed to be involved in the pharmaceutical industry?

‘Say they have been helpful in developing drugs, have a great deal of knowledge about how drugs are developed and carry on involvement with potentially a start up company that is developing drugs that they may have founded, should they be allowed to continue with that?’

The Cabinet minister said a key question is whether it is ‘useful for a member of Parliament to know about different areas and different activities’. 

He continued: ‘And if you can’t draw the line other than you shouldn’t do paid lobbying, how will we decide Labour’s motion?

‘Is it going to be you can do whatever Keir Starmer does but you can’t do any more? Is that what they are proposing?

Jacob Rees-Mogg today slammed Labour’s plans to crackdown on MPs holding second jobs as he said ‘drawing lines’ on what is and is not acceptable is ‘extraordinarily difficult’

‘So I think drawing lines is extraordinarily difficult and what do voters want? Well they want MPs with experience who contribute.’ 

Mr Rees-Mogg said the current rules on paid lobbying are ‘really clear and really important’ but ‘in terms of outside interests it is a much more complex question’. 

His comments came as Number 10 said it will wait to see the exact wording of what Labour is proposing before commenting in detail.      

Asked what the PM’s view is on MPs holding consultancies and directorships, his spokesman said: ‘I think the Prime Minister has given his view that an MP’s primary job is and must be to serve their constituencies and represent their interests in Parliament.

‘They should be visible in their constituencies and available to help their constituents with any matters of concern.’    

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