Highest-earning MP starts new £400,000-a-year job outside parliament

Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox is sought-after commercial barrister

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 08 November 2021 11:19
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Tory MP honoured for ‘parliamentary and political service’
Tory MP honoured for ‘parliamentary and political service’

Former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox has declared a new contract for part-time work worth £400,000 a year on top of his MPs’ salary.

The contract with international legal services firm Withers began on 1 November and commits the Torridge and West Devon MP to up to 41 hours of work a month. It is a renewal of a similar arrangement last year under which the company paid him £468,000 for 48 hours’ work a month.

A prominent commercial barrister and QC, Cox has been renowned as parliament’s highest-earning MP since entering the House of Commons in 2005.

He took a big pay cut when he gave up private practice to serve as attorney general from 2018-2020.

But since being sacked as the government’s senior legal officer by Boris Johnson in a reshuffle in February last year he has returned to the courtroom, registering more than £570,000 in earning.

According to Hansard, since leaving the frontbench, he has spoken in the Commons only once, in a debate on fixed-term parliaments in September 2021.

His entry in the Commons Register of MPs’ Interests states that 13.5 per cent of his earnings from the bar go to his chambers to cover their costs.

Asked whether it was acceptable for an MP to devote so much time to a second job, Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “It’s for individual MPs to set out transparently what additional work they’ve been taking on outside government and outside parliament.

“MPs are elected by their constituencies. It’s for the public at elections to decide how well individual MPs have performed.”

The spokesperson added: “We would expect all MPs to abide by the rules and declare their interests in the right and proper way.”

It was “a matter for the house” to decide the rules on second jobs, said the spokesperson.

This article was amended on 15 November 2021. It previously inaccurately stated that Mr Cox’s contract was with a firm called Consultant Global Counsel, however that is how Mr Cox’s role with the firm Withers is described.

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