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Politics

Sir Geoffrey Cox ‘should resign’ over two homes revelations

The Tory MP has come under fire for reportedly renting out his taxpayer-funded home London home while also raking in £1,900 a month on a second home.

Under-fire Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has been told to resign for reportedly renting out his tax-payer funded London apartment while also claiming expenses for a second flat in the English capital.

Torridge and West Devon MP Cox earns £1,000 a week for the mansion flat he rents out in Battersea, south London, according to The Mirror. He has claimed more than £80,000 from the taxpayer for the second home near Parliament.

But according to the report he also claims £1,900 a month from taxpayers for another home he started renting in 2017. Cox is even said to have claimed £3,800 in rent for the flat while he reportedly worked as a lawyer in a Caribbean tax haven for two months, a job for which he earns around £1 million a year. He also earns more than £80,000 a year as an MP.

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The former attorney general, who is under pressure following revelations about his second job as a barrister, has not broken House of Commons rules. But he has faced calls to resign from renters union Acorn.

Acorn spokesperson Jack Yates told The Big Issue: “That Geoffrey Cox is raking it in from a taxpayer-funded flat while also claiming nearly £2,000 per month in expenses for another home is a disgrace, but it isn’t a shock.

“For far too many MPs, the role isn’t about public service, it’s about enriching yourself and your friends and using public money to do it. This also shows why the government has no interest in resolving the housing crisis – because they’re profiting from it.

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“Cox has no place being a public representative and should resign, but the sad truth is that he is just as likely to be replaced by another corrupt profiteer.”

Anya Martin, director of housing campaign group Priced Out, also criticised Cox, warning that renters may see his actions as symbolic of the wider housing crisis.

“Many renters are struggling to afford extortionate rents after decades of government policy failures,” said Martin. “They will be unimpressed to learn that their taxes are funding extra homes that MPs do not even need.

“That so many MPs are landlords themselves no doubt partly explains their apparent lack of interest in making life better for the millions of renters who are priced out of ownership.”

Cox is becoming the most high-profile figure in a scandal over second jobs for MPs which began after the government overturned a suspension for Conservative MP Owen Paterson. Paterson, MP for North Shropshire, was found to have broken Commons rules by lobbying government departments to “secure benefits” for two companies he also worked for, according to the Commons standards committee.

Cox reportedly bought his Battersea home with his wife as a second home for £535,000 and claimed £82,298 in mortgage payments in four years before the expenses scandal tightened rules.

After the 2009 scandal, Cox continued to claim £8,000 to £9,000 a year in expenses to cover utility bills and service charges.

In 2017, he moved into another property and started claiming £1,900 a month.

Following the revelations, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called them “an egregious, brazen breach of the rules”. She has written to Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone asking her for “guidance on beginning a formal investigation”.

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Cox released a statement responding to allegations of corruption over his work as barrister representing the British Virgin Islands from London as well as in the Caribbean.

He said he “regularly works 70-hour weeks and always ensures that his casework on behalf of his constituents is given primary importance”.

The MP added “it was up to the electors of Torridge and West Devon whether or not they vote for someone who is a senior and distinguished professional in his field and who still practices that profession”.

Cox said he will “fully cooperate” with an investigation from the Parliamentary Commissioner over allegedly using his Commons office for outside work in September.

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