The SNP’s former Westminster leader said politicians “should be above suspicion” after the Westminster Accounts project revealed MPs were making millions from second jobs.
Ian Blackford, who stepped down last month after five years, said he fully supports his successor, Stephen Flynn. Call for “root and branch” reform How MPs make extra money.
Mr Flynn, the new leader of SNP Westminster, led the calls yesterday after Sky News and Tortoise Media launched a new database on MPs’ foreign earnings – for the first time, they’ve all been gathered in one place.
He said the findings of the investigation should “sound alarm bells for all” and show that the rules need to be “completely overhauled”.
And he sent a letter to Rishi Sunak calling for the law to be passed, saying that the Westminster Accounts project findings showed MPs’ external earnings were “not a stand-alone reminder, but an embarrassing replay of the spending scandal.”
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project found MPs won £17.1m In addition to their salaries since the last election, including 14 MPs more than £250,000 each In campaign donations since December 2019.
The SNP’s demands include a ban on “black money donations”, barring lawmakers from taking second jobs that involve a “significant time commitment or conflict of interest”, and tight restrictions and full transparency over foreign earnings.
Blackford said the reforms should be done “as quickly as possible” in this session of parliament – before spring – and urged all parties to support reform to “clean up politics”.
He told Sky News’ Kay Burley at breakfast: “At the end of the day, I think it’s about the responsibility we have to the public.
“Sky News and Tortoise shed light on this.
“Politicians have a responsibility to take action to make sure we really have best-in-class politicians, people we can trust.
“We must take our own responsibilities to make sure our home is in order, we must be free from doubt.”
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He added that he thinks there are exceptions where MPs should go with second jobs; such as doctors who need to hone their skills.
“But we have to make sure that the work politicians do is primarily about responsibility to the hearts of their constituents and that they don’t soften their own nests, that’s the whole point,” he said.
“Being an MP should be a full time job”
Labor’s Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry said Labor had called for reforms and a ban on most second jobs long before the SNP.
He told Sky News: “Being an MP should be a full-time job. We want to restore faith in politics and we have a few ideas, for example we want to set up an independent ethics commission.
“We think that ministers should declare their interests as MPs do, and that the job should not be left to ministerial law, which is overseen by the prime minister alone.”
He promised that if the Labor Party came to power, they would “change the rules” and “will be firm about it”.