British taxpayers paid out almost £850,000 in ‘golden goodbyes’ to government ministers who quit their jobs, were fired or lost their seats in the 2017 general election, along with their advisers, a POLITICO analysis has found.
The abnormally vast severance pay budget reflects the chaos and flux of Theresa May’s government - May oversaw the highest number of ministerial resignations since at least 1979, according to the Institute for Government.
In all, 40 ministers departed her government one way or another during her three-year-long premiership, including Boris Johnson, now prime minister, Dominic Raab, now foreign secretary, and Esther McVey, now a minister of state, who all resigned in protest over May’s handling of Brexit in 2018.
EXCLUSIVE: The total bill for golden goodbyes during the chaotic Theresa May regime: almost £850,000.— Emilio Casalicchio (@e_casalicchio) August 6, 2019
Payouts were made to senior figures who are now back in government under Boris Johnson. Also to ministers who quit amid scandals. Plus numerous aides. https://t.co/5YsooIDfvn
Johnson and Raab got almost £17,000 each, a quarter of their annual salaries, as did Damian Green, May's de facto deputy, sacked in December 2017 over "inaccurate and misleading statements" about pornographic material on his parliamentary computer, Amber Rudd, who resigned in April last year over the Windrush scandal, and Priti Patel, now home secretary, who was sacked in November 2017 after holding secret meetings with Israeli officials while on holiday.
Andrew Griffiths, who quit as a business minister in July 2018 after sending over 2,000 ‘sext’ messages to two barmaids, received £5,500, as did Kris Hopkins and Rob Wilson after they lost their seats at the 2017 election - Ben Gummer received £8,000.
POLITICO suggests the government may have paid out more, or will do in future, as ministers such as Gavin Williamson, sacked as defense secretary over a security breach row in May, and Andrea Leadsom, who quit as Commons leader over Brexit the same month, are also entitled to the cash, but it’s uncertain whether they have taken or will take the payout.
Commenting, Labour's Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jo Platt told POLITICO that rarely has failure been so richly rewarded as it was in May’s government.
“In no other walk of life would people be rewarded for breaking rules, resigning for personal ambition or getting sacked for incompetence and repeated failure. The fact so many of these people are back in the Cabinet less than a year after receiving handsome payouts stinks…Every one of these ministers should pay back every penny they took from the public purse,” she fulminated.