PMQs: Johnson clashes with Blackford over ‘confrontation’

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SNP Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Alyn Smith appeared on BBC Politics Live and said a review needed to be put in place to regulate MPs’ “outside interests”, adding there was a “cesspit” in Westminster that needed to be “drained”. But Mr Smith was confronted with SNP Commons leader Ian Blackford’s own outside interests which found he earned £38,000 for only 32 hours of work. Mr Smith accused Job Coburn of “whataboutery” and said Mr Blackford was a successful businessman who was reelected and had nothing in common with Geoffrey Cox.

Mr Blackford was exposed after it was revealed he was being paid for outside work alongside his main MP role despite calling for a review into politicians’ second jobs.

The SNP leader said he entered Parliament with a “number of non-executive directorships” and said he had to complete them.

He told ITV: “The key thing is what Parliament needs to do is deal with the sleaze and corruption that comes from the Conservative Government.

“What you saw with Owen Paterson is someone who is being renumerated for lobbying Government. He was a paid lobbyist, which is outlawed. It cannot take place.”

Appearing on BBC Politics Live, the panel discussed Labour’s plan to force a vote banning MPs from taking on consultancy work following the Geoffrey Cox revelation.

Mr Smith said could not comment on it until he saw what the vote actually involved but said definitely there should be no paid outside interests.

The SNP politician explained the scope of outside interests was too wide and so there needed to be a proper debate and scrutiny over what the rules are.

He said: “There’s a real need to regulate this stuff and Westminster has a problem with this. Westminster has a problem with this on a regular basis.

Labour's Lisa Nandy talks Conservative sleaze on Radio 4

“There’s a cesspit that needs to be drained here, I think the Labour motion, odds on we will be in favour of it but let’s see what it says.”

Ms Coburn then asked if it was “justifiable” for Mr Blackford to have any authority on the matter after he was found to be working for an investment fund and earning thousands a month for additional work.

Mr Smith replied: “This is the thing about whataboutery being really dangerous in this, Ian is a successful businessperson, he was elected in 2019.

“He committed to getting rid of those directorships and he has, this is not necessarily something you do overnight.”

Later on in the programme, Ms Coburn confronted Mr Smith again on the topic and wanted to know if constituents would understand he was fully committed to being an MP.

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Mr Smith said he has been reelected before it was pointed out Geoffrey Cox was also reelected.

Ms Coburn wanted to know how “whataboutery” was being defined and accused Mr Smith of brushing off legitimate criticisms of his party.

Mr Smith concluded and said there was a whole Westminster problem that needed to be discussed.

It was revealed Geoffrey Cox earned almost £1million through legal work for companies in the British Virgin Islands.

During the lockdown, Mr Cox used lockdown proxy voting to move to the Caribbean where he continued his outside work there while voting in the House of Commons thousands of miles away.

Mr Cox has been paid almost £900,000 by law firm Withers over the past year and has been paid a further £130,000 for other legal work

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