ANNA MIKHAILOVA: It's a high-wage economy… if you're Geoffrey Cox

ANNA MIKHAILOVA: It’s a high-wage economy… if you’re Geoffrey Cox

‘Wages are rising!’ Rishi Sunak declared in his Budget speech that made multiple mentions of Boris Johnson’s new ‘high-wage economy’.

And no one is doing more to prove the point than fellow Tory Sir Geoffrey Cox QC.

The MP has more than doubled his annual extra-parliamentary earnings – from £464,540 in 2017-2018 to £1,038,835 in the past 12 months.

Sir Geoffrey Cox QC has more than doubled his annual extra-parliamentary earnings – from £464,540 in 2017-2018 to £1,038,835 in the past 12 months

These legal fees are, of course, on top of his £81,932 parliamentary salary. 

In between this period, the silk fitted in an 18-month stint as Attorney General, which naturally was not linked at all to the decision by City law firm Withers to hire him on a £468,000 annual retainer for 48 hours a month (with the agreement of the ever-effective parliamentary appointments watchdog).

The barrister has said that MPs should have experience of the world of work. But only a tiny elite can command £800 per hour. 

Clearly crime does pay, but the MP for Torridge & West Devon is not a noticeable presence in Parliament, which his constituents might understandably regard his main workplace. 

‘I haven’t seen him in the Chamber for ages,’ said one Tory MP when asked about Sir Huge Fees’ heroic one-man efforts to create a high wage economy.

Earlier this month, Father of the House Tory MP Sir Peter Bottomley ruffled feathers by suggesting MP salaries should be increased because he thought many struggle on the current level.

He’s absolutely right, salaries should go up, but only if the questionable – yet officially sanctioned – gravy train of second jobs is banned first. 

It is patently unfair that backbenchers such as Tories Stuart Anderson and Siobhan Baillie, or Labour’s Margaret Beckett and Clive Betts, exist purely on their MP salaries, according to their declarations, while Sir Geoffrey has his million-a-year side hustle, completely within the rules.

Maybe even under-fire Tory MP Owen Paterson would have avoided watchdog criticism last week and likely suspension for lobbying if he hadn’t been on someone else’s £112,000-a-year payroll.

The ethical firm the Sussexes have partnered with, Ethic, owns shares in £72 billion Indian technology giant Infosys

Sussexes’ ethical network

Ethic, the ethical investment firm that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have partnered with, owns shares in Infosys, the £72 billion Indian technology giant linked to Rishi Sunak and his wife. 

Infosys was co-founded by the Chancellor’s father-in-law, NR Narayana Murthy, and Rishi’s wife Akshata Murthy owns a 0.91 per cent stake in the firm, worth £430 million – making her one of the wealthiest women in Britain or, as red-top tabloids would have it, ‘richer than the Queen’. 

It would be no surprise if the Sunaks are on Harry and Meghan’s Christmas card list. 

Last week Times columnist Clare Foges, who has an OBE, said tha it’s time for a ‘clean-up of the honours system to dispel the bad smell’

No greater friend did the City have than Gordon Brown. 

Now it seems Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves is following suit after registering £50,000 in donations from Victor Blank, the former chairman of Lloyds TSB, whose acquisition of HBOS as British banks teetered on the verge of collapse during the financial crisis, was backed by then PM Brown. 

Between 2012 and 2015, Blank donated £170,000 to Labour, then closed his chequebook during the Corbyn era until the return of Sir Keir’s New Labour.

Speaking of changing the system… it was hard not to raise an eyebrow at Times columnist Clare Foges saying last week that it’s time for a ‘clean-up of the honours system to dispel the bad smell’. 

As David Cameron’s former speechwriter, Foges was herself gonged with an OBE, along with his spin doctors and his barber.

Though ‘delighted to spend the day at Buckingham Palace’, she feels her honour was undeserved and uses it only to impress Yanks. 

Now she urges a ban on political appointments (‘no more lists from No 10’) and wants to turn the OBE into the Order of British Excellence.

Clare, dear, you could always have turned it down – or give it back now, as John Lennon did with his MBE. 

And no matter how many earnest articles she and other political appointees may write, the honours system will never change while it looks like their principles can be bought for baubles.

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