Boris Johnson has defended the right of MPs to have second jobs, as the Conservative candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup refused to rule out continuing his work for a financial services firm if elected.

The Prime Minister visited Sidcup on Friday afternoon, where voters will elect a new MP on December 2 following the death of James Brokenshire, amid suggestions that the sleaze allegations engulfing his party could affect its performance in elections.

In an exclusive interview with News Shopper, Mr Johnson stressed the value of extra-Parliamentary experience, after Tory hopeful Louie French suggested he could balance his work for Tilney with his duties as an MP.

The Prime Minister said: “For hundreds and hundreds of years, local MPs have had other trades and other callings, and that is something that Parliament has accepted, and the people of this country have accepted.


News Shopper: The PM speaking to a constituent in Sidcup (Andrew Parsons/CCHQ)The PM speaking to a constituent in Sidcup (Andrew Parsons/CCHQ)

“And until we move towards the total professionalisation of politics, which I think most people think would be to lose a great deal of experience of the outside world for politicians, that's the way it is.

“What you've got to do is have very tough rules to ensure two things: number one, that whoever is elected devotes himself or herself completely full time to the interests of their constituents and works primarily and above all, for them.

“And insofar as they may have additional work, which they do in their own time, and as I say, that's been going on for hundreds of years, they cannot use their position as a parliamentarian to lobby for that outside commercial interest, and we have strict rules against that, and they must be properly enforced.”

Louie French, a councillor for eight years and the former deputy leader of Bexley council, works as a sustainable portfolio manager for Tilney, a financial planning and investment firm which offers advice to private clients and charities in the UK.

Mr Johnson said that whether Cllr French continued the role if elected was “a matter for the candidate.”

Cllr French said: “Well, that's my day job at the moment.

“I'm not a career politician, so I'd have to have a discussion with my company at that point.

“But delivering for local people always be my number one priority.”

The Tory candidate said he would continue in his role as a councillor, unpaid, rather than triggering a costly by-election.

Serious questions have been raised about MPs’ outside interests since the Government attempted to rip up the Commons standards system after former Tory cabinet minister Owen Paterson was suspended for breaking lobbying rules.

Polling by Savanta ComRes published on Friday suggested allegations of sleaze may be influencing voters, showing the Conservatives had dropped four points and Labour climbed five since a similar poll a week ago.

The PM insisted the strength of the “local Louie” would ensure voters back the Conservatives on December 2.

Update November 15 - Louie French subsequently provided the following quote: "When I referred to having to have a conversation with my current employer if I were lucky enough to be elected, that would be on leaving my current job.

"To be absolutely clear, if elected as MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup I would step down from my job and not have any second jobs”.

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