Ministers who left the government after ‘breaking the rules, resigning for personal ambition or getting sacked for incompetence and repeated failure’ should pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds handed out as severance payments, Labour have said.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jo Platt called for the return of money which was reportedly paid out to ministers and advisers who quit their jobs, were fired, or who lost their seats in the 2017 general election.
Dominic Raab received a cheque for £16,876 in ‘redundancy pay’ after he left the Brexit department, while Boris Johnson accepted the same amount after he quit as foreign secretary.
Platt accused the government of rewarding “failure”, and said many of the people who took the cheques are now back in the cabinet less than a year after receiving “handsome payouts”.
The government says severance payments for ministers are set out in law and, for special advisers, are a contractual entitlement.
But Platt said the situation “stinks”, and called for repayment of “every penny” taken “from the public purse”.
According to analysis by Politico, almost £850,000 was paid out to ministers and advisers who quit, lost their jobs, or were fired during Theresa May’s time as prime minister.
This included £48,000 to two of Johnon’s special advisors after he left the Foreign Office, as well as another £60.500 shared between four other special advisers.
Platt said: “Rarely has failure been so richly rewarded as it was in Theresa May’s government.
“In no other walk of life would people be rewarded for breaking the rules, resigning for personal ambition or getting sacked for incompetence and repeated failure.
“The fact that so many of these people are back in the cabinet less than a year after receiving handsome payouts stinks.
“It’s one rule for the Tories and another for everyone else.
“Every one of these ministers should pay back every penny they took from the public purse.”
A government spokesperson said: “Severance payments for ministers are set out in law and for special advisers are a contractual entitlement.
“The special adviser contract sets out when they are payable, including when their minister leaves office and when there is a general election.
“If a special adviser is re-employed following either event their severance payment must be repaid.”
One former minister who could not claim the money was former Brexit secretary David Davis, who does not qualify for a single penny as the government does not pay out for over 65s.