Rule-breaker Boris Johnson 'not fit to be an MP'

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has been accused of not being fit to be an MP as it emerged he broke ministerial rules in taking a new job as a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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It was announced at the weekend that the former foreign secretary had strolled straight back into his lucrative role as a columnist at the newspaper, having been forced to give up the £275,000-a-year role when brought in to the Cabinet by Theresa May in 2016.

But today it emerged he had retaken the role despite failing to get permission from the appointments watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba)

Under the ministerial code, former ministers must apply to Acoba before taking up a new role.

The rules also stop ministers who have been members of the Cabinet from starting new jobs in the first three months after stepping down.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, a champion of the anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain, said Mr Johnson was "playing a stupid game".

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She said: "One minute he's flouting his position as Secretary of State, the next minute he's feathering his nest at the first opportunity. No wonder Trump likes him and seems him as a kindred spirit. He isn't fit to be an MP.

"Boris is a useless fraud who was the worst foreign secretary in modern history. He has no shame.

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"The worst Boris faces for this disgraceful behaviour is just a slap on the wrist. That is disgraceful. Boris has broken the rules yet again, for once he should pay the price for his actions.

"If the watchdog doesn't bark, is it time to put it down?"

A spokesman for Acoba told the Daily Mail Mr Johnson had not sought its advice, as required, before returning to the role.

But despite breaking the rules, it is unlikely he will be punished as the watchdog does not have the power to sanction former ministers who do not follow its advice.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: 'Boris Johnson jumping straight from his role as a government minister to a job as a columnist makes a mockery of Acoba.

"If it was in anyway a functioning body, this kind of thing would be blocked.

"Acoba hasn't got the teeth to stop this behaviour. We urgently need a radical overhaul of the system."

Mr Johnson has not commented. In his first column since rejoining the Telegraph, published yesterday, he avoided direct criticism of Theresa May or her Brexit plan.

He wrote: "I will resist – for now – the temptation to bang on about Brexit."

Asked about his outside earnings when he was London Mayor, Johnson argued that his Telegraph pay - then £250,000 - was 'chicken feed' and said: 'I don't see why, on a Sunday morning, I shouldn't knock off an article.'

He received a £25,000 pay rise in 2015, according to the Commons Register of Members' Interests.

Last year it was reported Mr Johnson was struggling to get by on his £142,467 foreign secretary's salary and wanted to get back to earning "serious money" as a writer. His appointment forced him to put on ice a biography of William Shakespeare for which he had reportedly signed a £500,000 deal.

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