Tag Archives: Geoffrey

Tories u-turn on limits to MPs’ second jobs – so their gravy train doesn’t stop?

Master and servant: Owen Paterson with his former boss, Peter Fitzgerald of Randox. They parted company shortly after Paterson stopped being an MP, which suggests that – rather than working for the people of North Shropshire – Paterson was really Randox’s inside man in Parliament.

Here’s an example of Tory greed at its worst.

Last year, after Owen Paterson ended up resigning as an MP because he had been found to have lobbied hard for at least one of several other employers, Boris Johnson promised curbs on the kind of secondary employment MPs could take.

But that was last year.

It seems he thinks we’ve all forgotten and he can signal the all-clear for his MP buddies (not all of them Tories!) to “Carry On Lobbying”.

Here are the details from the BBC News website:

Limiting the amount of time MPs spend on second jobs would be “impractical”, the government has said.

Boris Johnson called for a review of MPs’ outside work last year after a number of high-profile controversies.

At the time, the prime minister backed proposals to place “reasonable limits” on hours spent on other jobs.

MPs later backed government plans to prevent them taking on certain jobs, with No 10 saying any outside role, paid or unpaid, should be “within reasonable limits” and not stop MPs fully serving their constituents.

A definition of what that meant was not given, but International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan suggested 15 hours a week as a reasonable limit.

But Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclay has now said the measure would not work and also cast doubt on a proposed cap on outside earnings.

“The imposition of time limits would not necessarily serve to address recent concerns over paid advocacy and the primary duty of MPs to serve their constituents.”

When it came to a cap on earnings, Mr Barclay also had his doubts, writing that such a rule “could serve to prohibit activities which do not bring undue influence to bear on the political system”, such as writing books.

He said a long-serving MP “could inadvertently reach the ‘ceiling’ through earnings accrued over time”, and he questioned “whether it would be fair to subject that member to a standards investigation”.

He added: “To avoid this issue would require a substantive earning threshold to be set such that it would not serve to prevent MPs from taking on outside work for which they were properly remunerated in line with salaries in that sector.

“The introduction of such an arbitrary cap therefore may not have the intended effect of ensuring that members prioritise their parliamentary duties and the needs of their constituents.”

Why not just combine time limits with a ban on lobbying for firms that employ them, then?

(I’ll tell you why: no firm would then wish to employ them. Randox and Owen Paterson parted company as soon as he left Parliament.)

The u-turn provoked a sharp reaction from the pundits on the BBC’s Politics Live

Making an announcement in the middle of a war keeps it off the front pages, said Ed Vaizey.

He – a Tory – admitted it should be possible to limit the number of hours an MP works for other employers, and it should be possible to limit earnings.

And Stella Creasy said it isn’t hard to work out what is fair: if someone is a doctor it is fair to expect them to do a bit of practice to keep their skills up. “But you don’t need to practise to make a million pounds sitting in the British Virgin Islands [as former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox did] … it looks bad for all of us.”

She continued: “The public are looking at us with horror. The question isn’t how many hours – it’s ‘where do you find the time?’ There is quite a lot on, right now!”

Even Torygraph columnist Madeline Grant said: “Boris Johnson is very good at promising things in the short term to get out of trouble and then reverse-ferreting.”

She added: “They should have been looking at probity and conflict of interest, which is why the Owen Paterson scandal was so appalling.”

“I think they just bottled it,” said Miatta Fahnbulleh of the New Economics Foundation. “This might come back to bite them because it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.

“Being an MP is really hard; it is a full-time, pretty intense, full-on job, and for constituents [the question is] is your attention, is your priority, is your care divided? If you’re earning 200-300 grand in that other job you’d be right to feel that’s more of a priority.”

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No rule for them: #NeilCoyle avoids #antisemitism inquiry – because he’s #KeirStarmer’s crony?

Neil Coyle: why is Keir Starmer’s Labour bureaucracy protecting him from an anti-Semitism complaint? Isn’t the party supposed to be tough on Jew-haters nowadays?

Far-right Labour MP Neil Coyle is (apparently) not being investigated for anti-Semitism – despite complaints from prominent Jewish members of the community.

The complaint arises from a tweet Coyle posted about the main organisation of left-wing Jews in the party, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).

The Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP said JVL members were “outright Communists who have their own political party/ies they can ruin”.

Accusing Jews of Communism is a long-standing anti-Semitic trope, often paired with the phrase ‘Judaeo-Bolshevism’ or the far-right crypto-version ‘cultural Marxism’.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, Oxford Professor Avi Shlaim and solicitor Harold Immanuel – all Jews – wrote to Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Their complaint, sent in July last year, accused Coyle of ‘outrageous hate speech’ and said it was a clear breach of Labour rules against comments that ‘might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on race, religion or belief’ meriting the ‘severest censure’: Expulsion from the Labour Party.

The only response was auto-acknowledgement and a promise that, if they were victims, investigators would maintain contact as the case progressed.

A request for an update in October was greeted merely with auto-acknowledgement.

Meanwhile Skwawkbox, reporting on the complaint, has demonstrated the apparent double-standard being operated by Labour:

Labour has or is conducting at least 46 investigations against left-wing Jews accused of antisemitism by the right for their defence of Palestinians and their comments on the conduct of Israel. It does not appear to be conducting even one against Neil Coyle – and according to the three complainants, Keir Starmer has completely ignored a request to do so, even though it came from one of the country’s leading lawyers whom he knows personally.

Labour’s activities against left-wing Jewish members are accelerating. While last year a JVL committee member was a staggering 224 times more likely to be targeted for investigation than a non-Jewish member, the latest data show that this has risen to almost 300 times.

This episode demonstrates that Starmer seems to share Boris Johnson’s apparent belief that rules for the general public (or, in this case, Labour Party members) don’t apply to him or his cronies.

It seems clear that he thinks it’s one rule for JVL members – and no rules at all for Neil Coyle.

Source: Exclusive: Starmer ignored antisemitism complaints vs Coyle by prominent Jews incl knighted barrister and professor – SKWAWKBOX

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Will there soon by a by-election in Geoffrey Cox’s constituency?

Geoffrey Cox: he has a rich, booming voice. One wonders whether we will hear it raised in his defence… and one finds it doubtful.

If the people of North Shropshire had good reason to reject Owen Paterson for using his Parliamentary office for outside work, what about the electors of Torridge and West Devon?

Their MP – the former Attorney General, Sir Geoffrey Cox – has been found using his office for work centred not just outside Parliament, but outside the United Kingdom altogether.

It seems he has been acting as a legal advisor to an inquiry by the government of the British Virgin Islands into – ironically – alleged government corruption.

This work seems to have involved at least two journeys to those paradisical Caribbean islands, in April and June this year.

So it seems reasonable for people in Torridge and West Devon to ask whether their MP carries out any work for them at all.

Coming after the scandal over Owen Paterson’s work for Randox, it amplifies fears that Conservative MPs with second jobs are occupied far more with them than with their first duty – to represent the people of their constituencies.

Cox has been paid more than £700,000 for his BVI work – a vastly higher amount than the £82,000 he gets as an MP.

Labour has demanded an inquiry by the Parliamentary standards commissioner based, it seems, on evidence that Cox used his publicly-funded Parliamentary office to carry out some aspects of his privately-funded second job.

The situation has attracted the usual level of British humour – with its usual barb of satire:

The comment by “Luke” refers to an incident in which Boris Johnson hid in a fridge to avoid being questioned on a difficult subject by members of the press.

It represents an expectation by the general public that our excuse for a prime minister would rather run away from the evidence of wrong-doing by his Parliamentarians than deal with it.

This is bolstered by the fact that Johnson himself stands accused of corrupt practices and may face further investigation (having already been found guilty of wrong-doing) by standards commissioner Kathryn Stone in the near future.

And she is not likely to handle it with a light touch, after he tried to force her to resign last week.

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Johnson’s first Attorney General condemns his plan to betray EU withdrawal agreement

Geoffrey Cox: the former Attorney General is pointing the finger of accusation at Boris Johnson.

That’s scuppered the claims that the row over Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law is a last gasp of the so-called ‘Remainers’, then.

Geoffrey Cox – a devout Brexiter – was Attorney General when Boris Johnson signed his EU withdrawal agreement in January.

His announcement that he will not support Johnson’s Internal Markets Bill is proof that the controversy extends much further than the established battle lines.

The story broke in The Times, which is behind a paywall. However, the East Fife Times has this:

Boris Johnson’s former attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, has said it would be “unconscionable” to override the Brexit divorce deal.

The Tory MP said there is “no doubt” the “unpalatable” implications of the Withdrawal Agreement were known when the Prime Minister signed it, a time when Mr Cox was the chief law officer.

So he should know!

He stated:

And he threatened worse:

The Brexiteer warned he would not back the UK Internal Market Bill unless ministers dispel the impression they plan to “permanently and unilaterally” rewrite an international agreement.

[He] said tariffs and customs procedures on certain goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain were part of the deal.

“There can be no doubt that these were the known, unpalatable but inescapable, implications of the agreement,” he wrote in The Times.

He said if the powers in the Bill were used to “nullify those perfectly plain and foreseeable consequences” then it would amount to the “unilateral abrogation of the treaty obligations”

Cox said ministers could use “clear and lawful” options under the withdrawal agreement to remedy their concerns that food imports may be blocked from Britain to Northern Ireland – or, “in extremis”, take “temporary and proportionate measures” via independent arbitration.

“What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel about an impasse in negotiations, is to take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite portions of an international agreement into which this country freely entered just a few months ago,” he said.

It seems he also said this:

But the article also points out:

The QC… was attorney general during the unlawful suspension of Parliament.

That’s right; Boris Johnson prorogued Parliament illegally – and lied to the Queen in order to do it.

It seems Cox has had enough of such illegalities – and his words carry weight on the Conservative benches in the House of Commons.

They are also carrying weight on the social media:

Johnson and his people are desperately trying to play down the implications of their plan, but nobody is being fooled.

There may be more than verbal fireworks in the political news this week.

Source: Ex-attorney general strikes out at ‘unconscionable’ plan to override Brexit deal | Central Fife Times

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