Boris Johnson and Tory ministers entitled to total of more than £200,000 in severance pay for resigning

Opposition MPs urge outgoing Tory ministers to reject pay-offs

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 08 July 2022 11:08 BST
Who could replace Boris Johnson in the role of prime minister?

Boris Johnson and his former ministers are being urged to reject up to quarter of a million pounds in redundancy pay set to be paid to them for resigning.

Under the Ministerial and Other Pensions and Salaries Act 1991, MPs leaving office are entitled to 25 per cent of their annual salaries in severance.

This benefit applies even if they voluntarily resign from the government, and even if they do so for political reasons – or leave government in disgrace.

Over 50 ministers and parliamentary private secretaries have quit their roles in the last 36 hours in a bid to oust Mr Johnson – meaning Tory infighting could land the taxpayer with a bill of more than £200,000.

In some cases ministers were in office for just two days, having been installed by Boris Johnson in the death throes of his premiership, and then quitting.

And Boris Johnson himself is in line for a taxpayer handout of £18,860.

The payments have raised eyebrows in the past because ministers are not becoming unemployed, but simply returning to the backbenches – where they will still be paid a basic salary of £84,144 a year.

Government ministers are paid between £67,505 and £22,475 on top of their MPs' salaries, with the prime minister getting an extra £75,440.

As a result, cabinet ministers like Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid are in line for £16,876 ‘golden goodbyes’, while ministers of state like Kemi Badenoch could take home £7,920.

Opposition parties are urging the Tory MPs to "do the decent thing" and reject the pay-offs.

“Conservative MPs spent months defending Boris Johnson and failed to get rid of him when they had the chance," said Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain.

"The public won’t forgive them for keeping him in place for so long.

“Now Conservative infighting and sheer incompetence has cost the taxpayer yet more money during this cost of living crisis.

“Conservative ministers who resigned should do the decent thing and pass up their payoffs for the good of the country.”

Labour MP Rupa Huq raised the issue in the Commons on Thursday morning.

"At the same time we've got a government gripped by paralysis, and we have a cost of living crisis," she said.

"Can he confirm now from that despatch box that they will be forfeiting their right to this? Because we do not reward failure."

Michael Ellis, the Cabinet Office minister and Paymaster General responding for the government said: "The measure that the honourable lady refers to is set in statute. So it is a matter for the law and that law would have been passed by this house."

This article was amended on 28 July 2022 to revise down the total amount of severance pay that could be paid from £420,000. This figure was based on calculations from the Liberal Democrats, but was not accurate as it included payments for some posts not eligible for the severance payments. The Lib Dems have since put the figure at just over £245,000, while fact-checking organisation Full Fact puts the figure as being between £200,000 and £250,000.

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