MPs and Constituents Divided Over Geoffrey Cox's Second Job Scandal
"He is visible for those in need of help and is probably one of the best MPs with his constituents, and that's probably why he increases his majority every time", he said.
'Insult to British Taxpayers'
MPs, who according to official data, receive an annual salary of 81,932 pounds (over $111,000) are allowed to have a second job. At issue here is the MP's work in the British Virgin Islands, where he advised the local government on an anti-corruption inquiry launched by the UK Foreign Office this January. Mr Cox travelled there in April during the lockdown and stayed for several weeks during which he voted in Commons' hearings by proxy.
A video also shows him taking part in the inquiry via video at his Commons office, something the Labour Party claims is a violation of government rules, which state that MPs should ensure facilities paid for by the public purse "always support their parliamentary duties".
According to the BBC, since the beginning of the year (up to 7 September) all of Sir Geoffrey's votes in the British Parliament have been carried out by a proxy. He was present in the House of Commons on 13 September, but since then has missed 30 hearings involving votes.
MPs, including Mr Cox's fellow party members, found the details disquieting and stressed that lawmakers should devote their time to serving the public.
"If colleagues or I took even a minimally paid second role, our integrity would be questioned and position likely terminated. We don't have the luxury of only being held to account once the PM calls an election – it is one rule for them, another for everyone else", a senior Whitehall insider told PoliticsHome.
"He needs to make a decision as to what he wants to do with his life – either he should do his legal jobs and work wherever that takes him, or be in parliament – he shouldn't be doing both", an MP, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Guardian.
The lawmaker himself has not yet commented on the scandal, which comes a week after former government minister Owen Paterson was found to have broken rules by lobbying the government on behalf of two companies, who paid him.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated Sir Geoffrey Cox will be judged by his constituents.
"[Lawmakers should be] visible in their constituencies and available to help constituents with their constituency matters. If they're not doing that, they're not doing their job and will rightly be judged on that by their constituents", he said.