Boris Johnson flouts MPs’ rules after return to newspaper column
The former foreign secretary failed to get permission from the government’s appointments watchdog for his role as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph.
Former ministers should apply to the advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba) before accepting a new role under the ministerial code. Ministers who have been members of the cabinet should not accept new appointments for three months after leaving office.
Johnson returned to his £275,000-a-year Daily Telegraph column on Monday. He gave it up when he was appointed foreign secretary in July 2016.
A spokesman for Acoba said Johnson had not sought its advice, as required, before returning to the role, the Daily Mail reported. “Ministers are written to on leaving office to remind them of the responsibility to follow the government’s rules set out in the ministerial code,” a spokesperson said.
Despite breaking the rules, it was unlikely Johnson would be punished. The committee has been criticised as a “toothless watchdog” because it does not have powers to sanction former ministers who do not follow its advice.
Earlier this year, the public administration and constitutional affairs committee branded Acoba ineffectual and accused ministers of failing to take seriously the issue of the revolving door between the public and private sector.
The former chancellor George Osborne was singled out by the committee for “disrespecting” it and parliament by accepting a job as the editor of the Evening Standard without first clearing his new job.
Angela Browning, the chair of Acoba, has said that former ministers and senior civil servants who do not follow its advice should face criminal prosecution.
Johnson has declined to comment on the matter.