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Dominic Cummings Accuses UK PM Johnson of Second Jobs Hypocrisy Amid Paterson and Cox Row

© REUTERS / POOLBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain July 29, 2021
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives on the second day of the Global Education Summit in London, Britain July 29, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.11.2021
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The political strategist worked for the head of the Conservative Party for more than a year and stepped down after allegations that he violated government rules on the coronavirus and reports of power struggles in Downing Street. He's since launched a series of attacks on the prime minister and the government.
Dominic Cummings, former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, has accused the prime minister of hypocrisy amid the ongoing controversy, which saw critics of the government blame authorities and Johnson himself of enabling corruption.

At issue are the second jobs of former minister Owen Paterson and MP for the Torridge and West Devon constituency Sir Geoffrey Cox. On Thursday Boris Johnson said officials, who breach rules on second jobs should be punished, adding that MPs must primarily devote themselves to representing their constituents.

However, Dominic Cummings claims the head of government himself breached government rules by spending more time than needed on his second job. In a post on Substack, Cummings wrote that before the coronavirus pandemic started Johnson asked whether he could devote a large chunk of his time to writing a biography of Shakespeare.

"You get the idea. Within a month of the election he was bored with the PM job and wanted to get back to what he loves while shaking down the publishers for some extra cash. So WTF is he doing having a go at MPs given all his own outside earnings — and attempted outside earnings ... while he’s supposed to be pretending to be PM?!", Cummings wrote.

The former aide also wrote that government aides allegedly wanted Johnson to focus on his second job during the coronavirus pandemic.

"In February, as COVID spread he was in Chevening [Chequers was undergoing renovations] writing about Shakespeare and messaging No10 that COVID was 'the new swine flu' — though as I told MPs, we actually did not want him to stop his holiday as we thought he would return and tell everyone it was a hoax. Which of course is what he did when he returned at the end of February," Cummings wrote.

Since leaving the Downing Street in 2020, the political strategist has constantly criticised the government of Boris Johnson, in particular for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Cummings spoke about the shortage of personal protective equipment for medical workers, the slow testing programme, and lack of a coherent strategy. A subsequent inquiry conducted by several MPs seems to have given weight to his allegations.

Sleaze Row

Cumming’s statement comes amid the ongoing controversy over the so-called sleaze row. Last week, a report by the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, found that the former secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, lobbied the government on behalf of two companies which paid him thousands of pounds. The report, approved by a group of cross-party MPs, recommended a 30-day suspension.

Instead of punishing the former minister, Boris Johnson's government decided to reform a parliament standards system that found Mr Paterson guilty of violating lobbying rules, but made a U-turn and apologised after the news caused a huge outcry from MPs and the public.

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party described the government as "corrupt".

"The prime minister is trashing the reputation of our democracy and our country. It is a pattern of behaviour from a prime minister who doesn't know to uphold standards in public life," he said.

Another scandal began brewing this week after it became known that Sir Geoffrey Cox, MP for the Torridge and West Devon constituency, spent weeks in the British Virgin Islands where he advised the local government on an anti-corruption inquiry. During this time Mr Cox earned almost £1 million, while voting in the Commons by proxy.

MPs are allowed to have second jobs, although critics of Sir Geoffrey pointed out that he used his parliamentary office to take part in the inquiry via video, which they argue is a violation of government rules, which state that MPs should ensure facilities paid for by the public purse "always support their parliamentary duties".

Many MPs, including colleagues from his Conservative Party, accused Sir Geoffrey of failing to pay due attention to his work in parliament as it transpired that he missed 30 hearings in the Commons while doing his second job.
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