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9 November 2021

Why the “Tory sleaze” scandal isn’t going away

Despite Boris Johnson’s best efforts to ignore the story, more and more Conservative MPs are coming under scrutiny for their incomes from second jobs.

By Ailbhe Rea

Boris Johnson wakes up to another day of torrid front pages after the parliamentary debate last night (8 November) about Tory sleaze and the fallout from the Owen Paterson scandal. The Prime Minister was accused of “running scared” by Keir Starmer for failing to attend, and has come under attack from the papers this morning for declining to apologise for last week’s mess. 

But the “Tory sleaze” story is fast becoming about far more than Owen Paterson and the government’s efforts to protect him. More and more Conservative MPs are coming under scrutiny for their incomes from second jobs, with Labour now calling for a ban on paid consultancy work for MPs. Large sums from consultancy work are generally the preserve of a handful of Conservative MPs – with a few exceptions – but the wider discussion about income from second jobs could come back to bite MPs of all stripes: they will be under pressure to justify their income from newspaper articles, book deals and speaking events, among other things.

The financial dealings of our elected representatives will be pored over in the coming days, with more revelations and scandals certain to emerge. In the meantime, we’re heading for another day of discussion about whether MPs are paid enough, and whether a salary increase might solve these problems. You might think that’s a somewhat tin-eared discussion to have amid a sleaze scandal, and you might well be right.

[See also: Ban MPs from second jobs – but pay them properly]

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