Revealed: MPs earn £17.1m on top of their salaries since last election

Boris Johnson and his Tory predecessor Theresa May (PA) (PA Archive)
Boris Johnson and his Tory predecessor Theresa May (PA) (PA Archive)

Two-thirds of the £17.1million MPs earned on top of their salaries when to just 20 of them, according to a new investigation.

Former prime minister Theresa May topped the list making an extra £2.5m since the last election in December 2019.

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy topped up his earnings with £202,599.

All MPs are paid a base salary of £84,144.

Sky News and Tortoise Media launched Westminster Accounts, shining a light on how money works in politics.

The majority of the extra earnings went to Tory politicians - a total of £15.2m - while Labour MPs earned an additional £1.2m.

Former minister Owen Paterson sparked criticism over second jobs when he was found to have breached lobbying rules by the Commons standards watchdog, which ultimately triggered his resignation from Parliament in November 2021.

Other high-profile cases involved MPs staying within the rules but earning thousands for outside work.

Amid demands for reform, some changes will see them banned from taking on work as political or parliamentary consultants.

David Lammy (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
David Lammy (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

May received her biggest pay cheque of £408,200 from Cambridge Speaker Series for six talks in California, plus flights and accommodation for her and a member of staff.

She earned £38,000 from MPSF for a talk she gave virtually.

Sky reported she received £107,600 from the World Travel and Tourism Council for a speech delivered in Saudi Arabia - a country she blocked ministers and officials from visiting following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In response, May said all earnings go to the Office of Theresa May Limited, from which she pays herself a salary of £85,000 a year. The rest of the cash supports her charitable work, thought to include diabetes groups.

Sir Geoffrey Cox, the next highest paid MP for work outside of parliament, made £2,191,387 from nine separate legal firms and a local Conservative association.

The former attorney general was found to have earned over £800,000 from the law firm Withers for his work on an inquiry into corruption in the British Virgin Islands.

His earnings from Withers have now risen to over £1.8m in the past three years.

In a statement, Sir Geoffrey said: “A barrister retained to advise in a case is no more to be personally identified with the purposes and views of his client than a plumber with the views of his customer or a doctor with those of his patient.

“Therefore, there is no conflict of interest between my work as a barrister and my role as a member of parliament. On the other hand, I frequently put my experience and understanding of the law at the service of my constituents in helping them to resolve their individual problems in my regular advice surgeries.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Another former prime minister, Boris Johnson, was third in the rankings, declaring £1,064,785 for four speeches in New York since he stepped down in September.

Lammy and the Labour Party were ask to comment in the light of leader Sir Keir Starmer planning to ban MPs’ second jobs. Sky and the Standard received no response.

Lammy has made an impassioned defence of being paid for his LBC Radio show, saying: “Why am I here? Why am I pleased to be here? One because I am the only black presenter on LBC. It’s important for my constituents - I love the fact they approach me and can hear me putting views that they agree with out there into the public.”

Birmingham Yardley Labour MP Jess Phillips is the party’s only other in the top 20, ranking at number 19 with £162,838 of external earnings - including almost £65,000 for an advance on a book, £25,000 for appearing on Have I Got News For You, and just shy of £30,000 for columns in the Independent.

Outside earnings for the Liberal Democrats totalled £171,000 - but £159,758 of that has been earned by party leader, Sir Ed Davey, who is the 21st highest earning MP.

Sir Ed earns £5,000 a month as a political consultant for Herbert Smith Freehills and £37,984 as an asset manager for solar projects.