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Boris Johnson broke ministerial code by resuming Telegraph column without telling Government watchdog

By Sam Forsdick

Boris Johnson resumed his Daily Telegraph column this week after resigning as Foreign Secretary, in breach of ministerial code.

Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary on 9 July and his first column back, in which he urged the Prime Minister to believe in Britain, was published in the Telegraph on Monday.

Former cabinet ministers are expected to wait a minimum of three months from their date of leaving office before taking up a business appointment, according to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.

Although the waiting period can be waived under certain circumstances the committee chose not to do so in any of the cases it considered last year, according to its annual report.

Former ministers are also supposed to seek advice from Acoba’s independent advisory committee about taking up any employment within two years of leaving office, according to section 7.25 of the ministerial code.

Acoba confirmed no such application was received from Johnson and said he received a written reminder of the rules from the chair of the committee following his resignation, as is standard procedure.

Ministerial code also states that “former ministers must ensure that no new appointments are announced, or taken up, before the committee has been able to provide its advice”.

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Labour Shadow Cabinet member Jon Trickett criticised Johnson and said on Twitter: “The Conservatives have nothing but contempt for democracy. Establishment politicians like Boris jump from one lucrative job to the next without slightest fear of consequence.

“It’s simple: if they can sidestep our rules, we need tougher rules.”

A spokesperson for Acoba said: “The system works on transparency and only has the power to put the information in the public domain.”

A similar situation arose in 2017 when George Osborne was publicly named editor of the Evening Standard on 17 March just four days after making his application to Acoba and “before the committee had an opportunity to make the necessary enquiries, consider your application, and provide its advice”.

Johnson quit his £275,000-a-year job as a weekly Telegraph columnist in 2016 following his appointment as Foreign Secretary.

He began his career as a journalist at the Times and was Brussels correspondent for the Telegraph before entering politics.

In a column for the Times last week, Johnson’s former editor at the Telegraph, Max Hastings, wrote: “He showed himself a dazzlingly entertaining journalist.

“But the joke went tragically wrong when Theresa May put him in the cabinet.”

Johnson’s office has been contacted for comment.

The Telegraph declined to comment.

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay

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