Scandal-struck British MP Sir Geoffrey Cox is facing further questions after it was revealed he has missed two days of parliament this week while in Mauritius on a business trip.
While there is no suggestion Sir Geoffrey has broken any rules, his absence has added fuel to the fire after footage emerged allegedly showing him advising the British Virgin Islands from his parliamentary office, in contravention of Westminster strictures.
“What on earth must Geoffrey Cox’s constituents think?” said Shadow Commons Leader Thangam Debbonaire, whose Labour party has referred Sir Geoffrey to Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone over the alleged rules breach.
“He is meant to be representing them but instead habitually misses days and days of parliamentary time putting his business interests first.
“The prime minister must make Geoffrey Cox choose between putting his constituents first or his own interests.”
One of those constituents in Sir Geoffrey's Torridge and West Devon constituency, 58-year-old former nurse Jenny Davies, told the PA news agency: “MP-ing 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 [British Virgin Islands], and nobody here knows or cares and continues to vote sheeplike for him at every election.”
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.
“I sent an email to Geoffrey Cox which I waited over 80 days for a response to,” a 45-year-old manager at a facilities management company, who lives near Tavistock and did not wish to be named, told PA.
“I do not believe that Geoffrey Cox is able to concentrate fully on his role as an MP while he is carrying out other roles … he is not committed to his constituency.”
Tory MPs accused of raking in £1.7 million in consultancy fees this year
Sir Geoffrey isn't the only Tory MP to be caught up in the sleaze scandal. Former environment secretary Owen Paterson resigned after being found guilty of breaching parliamentary rules on lobbying, but only after a government U-turn on its vote to veto Mr Paterson's suspension by rewriting the parliamentary rule book.
The move led to Opposition MPs on Monday calling for a public inquiry into the behaviour of the government — and the Tory bloodletting showed no signs of abating on Thursday as Labour accused Tory MPs of raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds in consultancy fees.
It published an analysis showing Conservative MPs received more than £1.7 million in consultancy fees since the start of the year, with one in seven taking money from outside interests.
Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chairwoman, said it showed there was “something rotten” at the heart of the Tory Party.
The claims came after the prime minister warned MPs they must obey Westminster rules regulating their outside interests if they want to continue taking second jobs.
He said that those who failed to do so should be “punished".