Burley issues four-word shutdown of Cox defence as Scully insists between him & voters

Kay Burley grills Paul Scully over Geoffrey Cox row

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Kay Burley questioned whether it is ok for members of Parliament to spend weeks on end away from their seats as constituents try to get in touch. Conservative Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has come under scrutiny this week after it was revealed a second job as a consultant to the British Virgin Islands Government had him attend Parliament only once in 18 months. The Sky News presenter confronted Small Business Minister Paul Scully over the Government’s own response to the claims made against Mr Cox.

Ms Burley said: “Is it ok for an MP to be in the British Virgin Islands for weeks on end rather than representing his constituents?”

Mr Scully tried to distance himself from the claims, insisting any decision on Mr Cox would have to be made by his voters.

He said: “I’m not going to defend Geoffrey, or say anything, that’s up to Geoffrey.

“That’s between him and his voters. We’ve had a situation…”

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The Sky News presenter however interrupted, saying: “No, it’s not. No, it’s not. It’s not, though is it?

“Because you’re a member, you’re a minister, you’re more senior than he is.

“How would you feel about one of your MPs being in the British Virgin Islands while his constituents are trying to get him on the phone and they can’t?”

Mr Scully replied: “I don’t know whether they’ve been able to contact him or not.

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“I don’t know whether he’s been sunning himself, that’s why it’s not appropriate for me to comment on partial information.

“But nonetheless, as I say, the voters can see exactly what any MP has and hasn’t been doing.

“We’ve been in an odd situation the last few months, during the pandemic, because pretty much every MP had a proxy vote and weren’t able to come in freely into Parliament over that period.

“But nonetheless, that’s gone back to normal.”

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Jenny Davies, a resident in Geoffrey Cox’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.

Mr Cox 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.

The QC, in a statement issued on his website, defended his decision to work with the 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.

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