👨‍💼 Being an MP has become a full-time job with no room for outside interests.

The era of the “good chaps” theory government is over and its time to curtail or end second jobs, combined with a pay rise to match similar jobs.

Latest @FinancialTimes column ft.com/content/c2f963…
“There’s no way I could be an MP without my outside interests. My wife works full time, I’ve got kids and need the money for childcare.” To the average voter, a salary of £82,000-a-year might seem generous. But to listen to this MP, the struggle is real.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Owen Paterson showed the checks and balances work. No10’s efforts to scrap the standards system to save him failed and the court of public and parliamentary opinion did for him. But the more voters hear of MPs’ side gigs the greater the clamour for reform

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Ministers say second jobs bring a “richness” to parliamentary life. But @IsabelHardman argues there’s already two classes of MPs: those in safe seats who have time for outside interests vs. those representing marginals who spend their lives on the stump.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
What is it now to be an MP? Is it a full-time occupation: legislator, social worker and community champion? If so, it may be time to curtail most outside interests and duly up MP salaries, which lag behind comparable professions such as solicitors.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Or is being an MP still a part-time public service role, to represent voters on top of a day job? If so, an immediate but less radical reform could be a time limit of, say, no more than 20 per cent of the working week allowed on non-parliamentary work.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
.@IsabelHardman warns voters will be unwelcoming if parliament opts to keep second jobs - or decide to scrap them and replace with a pay rise.

"MPs need to take a decision knowing the public will be cheesed off with them either way."

ft.com/content/c2f963…
At the very least, @DrHannahWhite says outside work can be acceptable if “rules define what is reasonable”.

But regaining public trust will mean “banning consultancy and lobbying where you’re an adviser to a firm, on a retainer and arranging meetings”.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Peter Hennessy once wrote that the UK was run on the “good chaps theory of government”, where codified rules are unnecessary because of the moral fortitude of its participants. The Paterson saga, and others, suggest the “chaps” can no longer be trusted.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Lobbying scandals have been like small fires in the woods, creating some immediate carnage before being rapidly stamped out.

Eventually one may blaze bigger, as expenses did a decade ago. Now, as then, voters feel that probity in public life matters.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
I've also noticed a generational divide on the 2nd jobs debate. 2019 Tory intake - especially red wallers - are mostly in favour of ending outside interests, arguing their voters are "far less understanding". But the "old and bold" still much in favour.

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Although a full ban on 2nd jobs + pay rise is the cleanest solution to restoring trust, there's two challenges:

- Allowing public service work to continue, eg. doctors and nurses

- Allowing those who need to keep working for professional qualifications

ft.com/content/c2f963…
Therefore I'd expect @RhonddaBryant's Committee on Standards to agree on ending consultancy roles and the government to probably back it. With the rules tightened, having outside interests for MPs will be on its last chance.

ft.com/content/c2f963…

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More from @SebastianEPayne

3 Nov
As you may have possibly heard, the @FinancialTimes paywall is down so it's #FTfreetoday! Here's some top political reads:

- @PickardJE and yours truly on Hartlepool and whether Labour can win back its lost heartlands (with some stunning photography)

ft.com/content/23a35c…
- Inside Boris Johnson's money network. @GeorgeWParker and our crack investigative network take you into how the Tory party transformed its fundraising operation

www-ft-com.ezp.lib.cam.ac.uk/content/8c6041…
- The new north: my essay from Consett on Labour's lost northern heartlands and how England has changed since the age of deindustrialisation

ft.com/content/929022…
Read 14 tweets
29 Oct
💥 FT Exclusive: @EmmanuelMacron warns Boris Johnson the UK’s international “credibility” is on the line in the Brexit disputes over fishing rights and Northern Ireland.

“Make no mistake, it is not just for the Europeans but all of their partners.”

ft.com/content/0409d7…
Macron tells @labboudles he was sure of “goodwill” but:

“When you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility.”

ft.com/content/0409d7…
Macron said there had been “no provocation, no tension” over fishing rights, but added “we need to respect each other and respect the word that has been given”.

The president said he had “never created pointless controversy” with post-Brexit disputes.

ft.com/content/0409d7…
Read 5 tweets
26 Oct
‘Levelling up’ 🤝 'science superpower'

These two policy goals naturally chime together, which shouldn't be forgotten in tomorrow's Budget. Without Dominic Cummings, No10 shouldn't resile from a bold R&D spending strategy.

M'latest @FinancialTimes column ft.com/content/d35851…
@FinancialTimes “Go and do something that will actually get you a job,” my school tutor advised me before university. I duly went off to gain a BSc in Computer Science,

Although I displayed limited scientific aptitude, CompSci was one of the best decisions of my life.

ft.com/content/d35851…
Our leaders have strained relations with science. Wilson embraced “the white heat” of change, but failed to see it through. Thatcher sounded the alarm on climate change but didn't act. Now Boris Johnson now wants to follow the success of the AZ vaccine.

ft.com/content/d35851…
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep
I'm perplexed as to why so many in Westminster (especially in Labour) think Boris Johnson will call an early election.

#1: The Tories' polling lead is quite soft, as seen in the dip over the NI tax rises. It would be very May '17/Trudeau to go to the polls in such circumstances
#2: Things are about to get dicey for Johnson. A difficult winter for the NHS lies ahead with flu and Covid. Plus energy quandaries. Plus inflation and cost of living.

In the words one of former Tory cabinet ministers, "this is about as good as its gets for Boris"
#3: Johnson has done very little on Levelling Up, in part due to the pandemic. The formation of @luhcgovuk last week is an attempt to resolve.

As the PM told me in #brokenheartlands, he needs as much time as possible to fulfil pledges to 2019 first time Tory voters.
Read 10 tweets
21 Sep
🗳 Levelling Up shouldn’t just be about rebalancing England’s economy, it’s about the big democratic deficit too.

So Boris Johnson should replace the House of Lords with a chamber of mayors and reps from devolved parliaments.

@FinancialTimes column ft.com/content/269eb4…
@FinancialTimes The departure of @DanJarvisMP from South Yorkshire shows why mayors need and deserve a national platform. Our most compelling politicians are now found outside on Westminster, yet they lack influence in power and policy.

ft.com/content/269eb4…
Robert Jenrick pledged more devolution and mayors to fulfill Levelling Up, all eyes are on whether Michael Gove will do the same.

One MP who knows him well thinks so. "Michael is a big believer in localism, even when it’s uncomfortable for Whitehall"

ft.com/content/269eb4…
Read 4 tweets
8 Sep
NEW: Ministers and officials are braced for ‘catastrophic’ end to Universal Credit uplift next month.

Government’s internal analysis suggests homelessness and poverty will rise and food bank use will soar. But insiders say no U-turn.

ft.com/content/ea096a… via @financialtimes
One well-placed Whitehall official on ending the £20 a week uplift:

“The internal modelling of ending the UC uplift is catastrophic. Homelessness and poverty are likely to rise, and food banks usage will soar. It could be the real disaster of the autumn”

ft.com/content/ea096a…
One minister agrees: “There’s no doubt that this is going to have a serious impact on thousands of people and colleagues are really worried, I think it will definitely eclipse social care as a political problem. It’s not just red wall MPs.”

ft.com/content/ea096a…
Read 6 tweets

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