SIR Malcolm Rifkind could “easily walk into a £250,000 job or pick up a string of directorships”, a public affairs expert has claimed, after he announced he would quit as an MP as a result of being caught up in “cash for access” allegations.
The Edinburgh-born former Scottish secretary and former Edinburgh Pentlands MP announced that he would step down from his Kensington seat at the election in May and immediately resigned as chairman of the intelligence and security committee following a furious backlash to recordings of him touting his services to a fictitious Chinese company.
In recordings from the Daily Telegraph/Channel Four Despatches sting, Sir Malcolm was seen described himself as “self employed”, saying “nobody pays me a salary”, ignoring his £67,000-a-year MP’s salary.
He is said to have asked for a fee of somewhere between £5000 and £8000.
He later claimed in an interview that somebody with his “business background” was entitled to earn more.
John Major’s former foreign and defence secretary, who was first elected as an Edinburgh MP in 1974, added that people would be “surprised” at how much spare time he had and he did “a lot of reading”.
Alistair Thompson, a public affairs expert at Media Intelligence Partners, said Sir Malcolm would not be short of job offers when he left parliament.
He said: “With his vast experience and contacts book Sir Malcolm could easily walk into a £250,000 job. You only have to look at other senior former politicians such as Tony Blair who made £13 million last year.”
Former Labour minister Lord George Foulkes, who has known Sir Malcolm for 50 years since the two were at Edinburgh University together before becoming opponents on the city council and in parliament, said the scandal had brought the issue of reforming MPs’ pay to the fore.
He said: “We need to pay MPs much more but also ban them from taking any second jobs or incomes. There needs to be a quid pro quo.”
In a statement yesterday, Sir Malcolm was still unapologetic about his comments.
He said: “None of the current controversy with which I am associated is relevant to my work as chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. However, I have informed my colleagues that while I will remain a member of the committee, I will step down from the chairmanship.”
He insisted that he had not come under pressure from Downing Street and that it was “entirely a personal decision.”