Labour has accused Tory MPs of raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds in consultancy fees as it sought to keep up the pressure on Boris Johnson over Westminster “sleaze”.
The opposition party published an analysis showing Conservative MPs received more than £1.7 million in consultancy fees since the start of the year, with one in seven taking money from outside interests.
Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chairwoman, said it showed there was “something rotten” at the heart of the Tory Party.
The claims came after the prime minister warned MPs they must obey Westminster rules regulating their outside interests if they want to continue taking second jobs.
He said that those who failed to do so should be “punished”.
His warning came as the former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox said he did not believe he had breached rules which ban MPs from using their parliamentary offices for outside business.
Labour has referred Sir Geoffrey to the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone after video emerged of him apparently taking part in legal proceedings in the British Virgin Islands remotely from his office in Westminster.
Pressed at a news conference at the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Johnson again refused to apologise for his handling of the issue after the row which erupted last week over the treatment of former cabinet minister Owen Paterson.
He nevertheless felt obliged to reassure an international audience listening into the gathering in Scotland that “the UK is not remotely a corrupt country”.
An investigation by Stone found that Paterson was found to have repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials on behalf of two firms he was working for as a paid consultant in breach of the long-standing ban on paid lobbying by MPs.
Conservative MPs were furious after they were ordered to vote for a review of the system which could have allowed Paterson to appeal against a recommended six-week suspension, only for ministers to abandon the plan when opposition parties refused to co-operate.
Redwood rakes it in
However Dodds said that Labour’s analysis showed 50 Tory backbenchers and former ministers had been paid by management or consultancy firms.
There is no suggestion that any of the MPs concerned broke any parliamentary rules in doing so.
Former cabinet minister Sir John Redwood, the MP for Wokingham, was said to have earned the most in fees, at £194,810.
This was followed by Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell (£115,833), Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier (£82,500), Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond (£81,666) and North East Bedfordshire MP Richard Fuller (£79,899).
The analysis does not include income from other outside work but calculates that in total £1,712,357 has been paid to Conservative MPs in consultancy fees.
Dodds said: “There is something rotten at the heart of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party if one in seven of his MPs is taking money from outside interests.
“The prime minister needs to show leadership, heed Labour’s call to ban MPs from having paid directorships and consultancy roles and put an end to Tory sleaze.”