Tory councillors have ‘no concerns’ over MP’s British Virgin Islands job, but these people do

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Conservative Party councillors in Torridge and West Devon have said they have no concerns over reports that their local MP was paid up to £900,000 to work in the British Virgin Islands. The situation is being criticised by others, however, and it’s being linked to the ongoing Tory corruption scandal.

Cox

Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox was hired to defend the islands in an inquiry launched by the Foreign Office. Tory councillors in his constituency spoke up in support of him and said they are not concerned.

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Debo Sellis, county councillor for Tavistock, said she has worked “very closely” with Cox and described the work he does for local residents as “phenomenal”. She said:

I can say that I have contact with the majority of people in my area and it is quite remarkable how many single mums will say they are voting for Geoffrey because he has helped them.

I have stood in for him at his surgeries and there is a lot of people that go there with many sensitive and tricky cases. What he can do for them is phenomenal. He is very passionate about the community.

The Conservative added that she will “definitely” vote for Cox if he stands for re-election.

Elsewhere, Cox’s past actions have drawn criticism:

His current actions have also drawn criticism:

“Excellent”

Bere Ferrers ward councillor Peter Crozier said he has no doubt the party will win a forthcoming council by-election, despite the reports that Cox was paid up to £900,000 in his second job abroad. The Conservative said:

Sir Geoffrey is excellent with his constituents. He is visible for those in need of help and is probably one of the best MPs with his constituents, and that’s probably why he increases his majority every time.

I doubt the reports will affect the by-election.

Others have suggested his actions are actually disadvantaging his constituents:

Steve Hipsey, Independent councillor for Tavistock North, told the PA news agency he has concerns about the amount of time Cox spends in parliament.

He said:

The only times I have had anything to do with him was before I was a councillor and I asked him about his attendance in Parliament, where he gave me a ‘dog ate my homework’ answer, and then during lockdown about the spread of Covid from tourists.

If I have any beef with him at all it is about the time he spends in Parliament representing his constituents. As a local councillor I am very concerned that we seem to be getting so little value for money out of him in Whitehall. I have no real gripe with him in terms of constituents.

Hipsey added that he would not vote for Cox in an election.

Brexit
Tory councillors spoke up in support of Torridge and West Devon MP Sir Geoffrey Cox (House of Commons/PA)

Raabing it in

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that there are “very strict rules” surrounding MPs’ second jobs and that it is “respectable and legitimate” for them to carry them out. He added that it is ultimately up to voters whether they think their MP is earning too much in a second job. He said:

I think that people do want to see MPs and politics have exposure and experience that comes (from) outside the political world

He added that it:

makes sure we don’t become ever more secluded and out of touch with the priorities of what’s going on in the world outside the House of Commons.

Ultimately, voters will decide on their MP and whether they’re spending enough time doing the job for them as their constituents.

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