Boris Johnson making £21,000 an hour as second jobs earnings revealed

Former PM has earned £4.7m in past year, as Liz Truss enjoys highest hourly rate of any current MP

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Friday 14 July 2023 18:00 BST
Related: Moment MPs vote in favour of Partygate report finding Johnson misled parliament

Boris Johnson is raking in an astonishing £21,000 an hour in work from the speaking circuit and other lucrative gigs outside of politics, it has emerged.

The former prime minister has now earned around £4.7m over the past year – mostly from the huge fees charged for speaking at events overseas after he was kicked out of Downing Street.

His successor Liz Truss, at No 10 for only six weeks, has the highest hourly rate of any current MP – making a mammoth £15,000 per hour.

Like Mr Johnson, she is also enjoying huge payments for speaking abroad on global affairs, pocketing £80,000 for a recent speech in Taiwan on the threat posed by China.

As well as making around £4.2m from speaking events in the past year, Mr Johnson struck a £510,000 deal with HarperCollins in January to pen a memoir “like no other”.

Although he no longer enjoys his £86,000 salary since quitting his Uxbridge seat in fury over parliament’s Partygate punishment, Mr Johnson is said to have secured a “very-high six-figure sum” to write his new weekly column for The Mail.

As well as earning between £200,000 and £275,000 from a series of speeches in the US, India and Singapore, Mr Johnson has enjoyed some hefty donations since leaving No 10 – including a £1m donation from Thai-based Brexiteer Christopher Harborne.

Ms Truss has also been gifted some large donations over the past year, mainly for her summer leadership campaign, including £100,000 from interior designer Natasha Barnaba and another £100,000 from Fitriani Hay, the wife of former BP executive James Hay.

Having signed up with Chartwell Speakers agency after her brief stint at No 10, Ms Truss made £80,000 from the Prospect Foundation for her speech in Taiwan.

She also received £32,000 for a speech to a newspaper in Switzerland, £65,000 for a speech to a media firm in India, and £6,000 for a speaking engagement at Tokyo University.

Ex-PM Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are making the most per hour
Ex-PM Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are making the most per hour (PA Archive)

Fresh questions have been raised about the MPs’ work outside parliament after it was revealed that they have made more than £17m from second jobs since the 2019 election.

Despite enjoying a pay rise this year which took their salary to £86,584, Britain’s MPs are now making an average of £233 per hour from second jobs, according to the latest Sky News analysis of earnings outside of parliament.

The huge sum is around 17 times the country’s average hourly earnings, and 22 times higher than Britain’s minimum hourly wage. The hourly rate was worked out by the amount earned against the number of hours declared.

Tory MP Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, was shown to work the highest number of hours outside parliament – clocking up 3,869 hours as a football referee for the Scottish Football Association since the last election.

Fellow Tory Sir Geoffrey Cox – the barrister who has made more than £2m from his legal work since the 2019 election – tallied up the longest time in private sector by working 2,565 hours.

The highest number of hours outside of parliament by a Labour MP is the shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, who has worked almost 1,000 hours for dozens of different organisations.

Keir Starmer has backed second jobs reform – but hasn’t set out details
Keir Starmer has backed second jobs reform – but hasn’t set out details (PA Wire)

Sir Keir Starmer has said that Labour would support a crackdown on second jobs for MPs to stop lobbying scandals – but he has said there would be “exceptions” and changes would need cross-party support.

Labour has promised a new standards regime, first announced by the party in 2021, which would include a ban on former ministers lobbying or carrying out paid work relating to their old roles for at least five years.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner, setting out Labour’s plan on Thursday, acknowledged it would still involve “a role for the prime minister” – but promised greater powers for an independent ethics watchdog.

Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government, asked whether changes should be made to the way MPs declare their outside hours to show how much time they are taking away from parliament.

She said a speech “given in Chicago or Calcutta, it’s an hour-and-a-half of the speech, but actually you were away from the country quite a long time”, adding: “So if we want to say how available are you as an MP, the system is really not very good for that.”

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