Boris Johnson proposes ban on MPs’ paid lobbying to quell sleaze row


    oris Johnson has bowed to pressure to propose a ban on MPs acting as paid political consultants or lobbyists, as he tries to stem the sleaze row that has battered the Tory party.

    The Prime Minister also called for the Commons Code of Conduct to be updated, to be tougher on MPs with second jobs, and for those who fail to focus on their constituents to be “investigated and appropriately punished”.

    A Government source said MPs will be given a vote on the proposals in the Commons on Wednesday, as ministers seek to save their blushes by amending a Labour motion that could have forced a similar move.

    Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson had been “dragged kicking and screaming” into the new position, which the Prime Minister announced just as the Labour leader was detailing his own plans to tackle sleaze.

    The Prime Minister said his proposals would ensure MPs who are “neglecting their duties to their constituents and prioritising outside interests would be investigated, and appropriately punished by the existing disciplinary authorities”.

    “They would also ban MPs from exploiting their positions by acting as paid political consultants or lobbyists,” Mr Johnson added.

    The move was an attempt to draw a line under the damaging saga that began with the bid, backed by the Prime Minister, to overhaul the disciplinary system to prevent the immediate suspension of Owen Paterson.

    Opposition parties forced Mr Johnson into a U-turn over that plan and the Conservative former minister resigned as the MP for North Shropshire while a vote to ban him from the Commons for six weeks for breaching lobbying rules was being rescheduled.

    The Prime Minister announced his proposed reforms in a letter to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, including two key recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s report on MPs’ outside interests from 2018.

    These included changing their code of conduct so that any outside work should be “within reasonable limits” and “not prevent them from fully carrying out” their duties.

    The rules would also ban MPs from accepting paid work as a parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant, and from accepting payment or offers of employment to act as political consultants.

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