Tory MPs have received £15.2m from second jobs since the last general election, dwarfing the combined income of politicians who represent other parties.
The former prime minister Theresa May was the biggest recipient, taking home £2.5m on top of her parliamentary salary, mainly from giving speeches to organisations in the US such as JP Morgan bank and the private equity firm Apax Partners. She draws a salary of £85,000 from this pot and says the rest of the money is used to fund her private office, promote her involvement in public life, and make charitable donations.
Other top recipients include Boris Johnson, who has hit the global speaking circuit with a passion after being deposed from Downing Street last summer. He has already received more than £1m since October by giving just four speeches, at a rate of more than £30,000 an hour. Despite this he also had his family’s rent paid for by the owners of JCB and received gifts of flights and accommodation from Rupert Murdoch.
The analysis by Sky News and Tortoise found MPs collectively received £17.1m from outside income since the 2019 election, with most of the money going to Conservative politicians. Labour MPs earned a comparatively small £1.2m from outside work, while Liberal Democrat MPs took an additional £171,000 and SNP MPs banked £149,000.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, told Sky News that he supported tougher restrictions on MPs having outside jobs, repeating a pledge made during the 2021 scandal over Owen Paterson being paid to lobby for a company while sitting as a Tory MP.
“What I want – what I still want – is for the new House of Commons to agree new rules,” said Starmer, while insisting he did not want a complete ban on MPs receiving extra money on top of their jobs. “Broadly speaking I think there’s a million miles of difference between someone advising a company on strategy and someone who’s writing a political book.”
Starmer himself received about £26,000 from legal work conducted while a serving Labour MP but before he became leader of the opposition.
MPs receive a basic salary of £84,144 along with expenses required for their jobs, housing and staff. Government ministers receive additional payments depending on their status, peaking at the prime minister’s salary of £164,000 a year.
While 54% of MPs are Conservatives, they account for 89% of external income over the last three years. . That includes Geoffrey Cox, who has earned £2.2m from legal work in the last three years while serving as Tory MP for Torridge and West Devon.
The former attorney general received much of it for his work advising the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands, which is being investigated by the UK government due to corruption concerns.
John Redwood, Andrew Mitchell and Chris Grayling were among other prominent Tory MPs to be paid more than £200,000 in additional income since 2019.
The Labour MP with the highest outside income was David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary. He has taken home £202,000 since the last general election on top of his main salary, with the biggest source of income being fees for presenting a weekly show on radio station LBC. The only other Labour MP in the top 20 was Jess Phillips, who has earned £162,000 in the last three years from media appearances and writing books – including £5,000 for being a guest on Have I Got News for You.
Starmer defended Lammy on Sky News: “I think David does a lot of media work, and I think media work and writing books is all part of the political process. But there’s a discussion to be had, I was urging the whole House of Commons to agree new rules because I do think we should get rid of second jobs with some exceptions.”