Geoffrey Cox Call for PM to act, as MP continues outside work
Geoffrey Cox has again appeared as a lawyer for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) inquiry while parliament is sitting, calling into question whether he is meeting the prime minister’s demands for MPs to put their duty to their constituents first.
The Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon, who has earned about £1m from legal work over the last year, joined the BVI commission of inquiry into allegations of corruption for two hours while the House of Commons was sitting yesterday.
Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, said Cox was “taking the mick” and branded it a “test of leadership”. “The prime minister is letting him get away with it,” she added.
Cox has come under scrutiny over his outside earnings since it emerged he had been voting by proxy in parliament from the BVI during the pandemic. Then it emerged he had skipped at least 12 votes on days when he was doing paid legal work, after the proxy voting allowances ended.
Since then, Boris Johnson has backed the idea of banning MPs from working as paid parliamentary consultants or advisers and said that anyone “prioritising outside interests” and neglecting their constituents should face investigation.
It is not clear exactly how many MPs and their second jobs this could cover. A Guardian analysis found it would be likely to affect fewer than 10 of those with outside interests if the limit were set at 20 hours a week as suggested by the cabinet minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Cox’s average time spent on legal work is only slightly more than that amount.
Cox has been approached for comment. But he previously defended his outside interests by arguing that it was up to his constituents to judge him.
‘The prime minister is letting him get away with it’
Angela Rayner Labour deputy leader