10 November 2021

Being an MP ‘not a part-time hobby’ say Geoffrey Cox’s constituents

10 November 2021

A constituent of Sir Geoffrey Cox has said that being an MP “should be a full-time job” while another has questioned his commitment to his constituency.

The former Cabinet minister said he does not believe he has breached parliamentary rules after a video emerged appearing to show him undertaking external work from his Westminster office.

Labour has referred Sir Geoffrey to the Commons standards commissioner after The Times reported the practising barrister used his MP office in September to participate remotely to advise the British Virgin Islands over a corruption probe launched by the Foreign Office.

A view of the constituency office in Tavistock, Devon, of former Cabinet minister Sir Geoffrey Cox (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

Jenny Davies, a 58-year-old former nurse and resident in the Tory MP’s constituency of Torridge and West Devon, told the PA news agency: “MPing should be a full-time job, especially in a poor rural farming part of the country, not a part-time hobby.

“The worst thing is that he can apparently do nothing for his constituency, fail to attend Westminster, spend weeks in the BVI, and nobody here knows or cares and continues to vote sheep-like for him at every election.”

Ms Davies added that she had not personally voted for Sir Geoffrey.

Another of the MP’s constituents called into question his ability to “concentrate fully on his role” and recalled long delays in receiving a response when contacting him.

The 45-year-old manager at a facilities management company, who lives near Tavistock and did not wish to be named, told PA: “I sent an email to Geoffrey Cox which I waited over 80 days for a response to.

“Waiting nearly three months for a response to a query is unacceptable.

“I do not believe that Geoffrey Cox is able to concentrate fully on his role as an MP whilst he is carrying out other roles… he is not committed to his constituency.”

The QC, in a statement issued on his website, defended his decision to work with the British Virgin Islands, offering legal advice that could earn him more than £1 million this year on top of his £81,900 MP salary, and said he would co-operate with any investigation into his conduct.

The MP of 16 years said he had been given permission by Chief Whip Mark Spencer to utilise proxy voting rules brought in during the Covid-19 lockdown to allow him to continue voting in the Commons while working out in the Caribbean earlier this year.

MPing should be a full-time job, especially in a poor rural farming part of the country, not a part-time hobby

Samuel Bedford, a 36-year-old farmer in Bondleigh and constituent of Sir Geoffrey, told PA that he had contacted the MP’s office once before about issues with roads in his area, but was “redirected to a local councillor.”

“Before his face was in the newspaper… put him in the High Street in somewhere like Crediton, I think people under 40 would be struggling to place him,” Mr Bedford said.

“The general sense from the kind of local area for me is it’s a waste of time contacting his office.”

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