Two politicians, and former foreign secretaries, from both the Tory and Labour parties, have been caught by undercover journalists hawking their “expertise” and “connections” for thousands of pounds.
Labour’s Jack Straw has resigned from the Parliamentary Labour Party, and Tory Sir Malcolm Rifkind has resigned as chair of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee and intends to step down as MP at the general election. Both have referred themselves to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.
In a film, secretly recorded by Channel 4’s Dispatches program, Straw claimed that he was paid £60,000 a year by a commodity firm to use his influence “under the radar” to change European Union rules. He also claimed to have used “charm and menace” to convince the Ukrainian prime minister to change laws on behalf of the same firm.
Rifkind claimed he could “meet ambassadors” on behalf of the fictitious company journalists were posing as part of; he said he could write to ministers on behalf of the company.
Both politicians have insisted that they have not broken any parliamentary rules. This may well be the case, MPs are allowed to earn vast amounts outside of their MPs’ salary and face very little restrictions in the work they do or services they offer.
Rifkind has insisted that MPs “cannot live on simply £60,000” a year, I wonder how he thinks the rest of us survive?