Boris Johnson's Conservative party has a rampant cash-for-access culture that goes back years – Ian Murray MP

The last week has exposed Boris Johnson’s low standards, poor judgement, and sleazy government.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:45 pm
Boris Johnson is not a serious leader and the joke isn’t funny anymore, says Ian Murray (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

In 1997, former PM, John Major was brought down in-part by the sleaze that surrounded his Cabinet.

Fast forward 24 years, the same culture of corruption remains within their party, driven by a sense of entitlement and arrogance.

Last Tuesday, it was revealed that Owen Paterson, Tory MP for North Shropshire, is paid £100,000 a year to lobby for Randox, a company that was awarded contracts worth about £500 million by the government.

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He was found guilty of breaching the MPs’ code of conduct by an independent parliamentary committee but the PM decided to use parliament to quash that decision and undermine the process.

We now know that former attorney general Geoffrey Cox QC has earned hundreds of thousands advising the government of the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven accused of corruption, from his parliamentary office.

The government is rotten to the core.

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An apology must be the start but, true to fashion, the Prime Minister has been avoiding accountability rather than committing to a full public investigation into the contracts handed to Randox.

It’s time to say to this Prime Minister, “enough is enough”. We will not stand by whilst he trashes our democracy.

We are fortunate in this country. Voters may not always agree with politicians, but they do hope that disagreements are sincere, that their representatives are acting in the national interest, and that we can resolve our disagreements in debate, and at the ballot box.

But when the PM gives the green light to corruption, he corrodes trust.

I can’t understand how some MPs can find the time to have second jobs. Any spare time I have is given to my constituents.

Being an MP is not only more than a full-time job, but an absolute privilege that should be treated as such.

MPs are sent to Westminster to represent their constituencies; it is a job I love to do and take an immense amount of pride in.

We are not sent to Westminster to act as paid lobbyists. This is a principle so basic it has existed since 1695.

Of course, when it comes to banning second jobs there must be common-sense exemptions.

People who make good MPs often come from professional backgrounds outside of the political sphere and maintaining those roles is important.

As an ex-publican and events company owner, I know the real-world experience I gained in those positions has made me a far better politician and public servant.

Doctors, for example, must practice for a certain number of hours to keep their license and most people would agree that when an MP also practices as a doctor, their community is enriched by the diversity of experience they have.

Thankfully, the government is set to reverse the mayhem they caused last week and accept the watchdog’s original report to sanction Owen Paterson. Unfortunately, he has jumped before he was pushed.

This is a start, but the rampant cash-for-access culture within the Conservative Party continues to rear its ugly head, and I’m afraid this won’t be ending soon.

The chaos ensues and Boris Johnson is nowhere to be found. He is not a serious leader, and the joke isn’t funny anymore.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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