Boris Johnson has proposed banning MPs from acting as paid political advisers or lobbyists in an attempt to end a dirt scandal that has dominated Westminster politics for the past two weeks.

The UK Prime Minister made the announcement on Twitter when Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labor Party, wanted to launch a press conference with similar plans.

Starmer had proposed moving a motion to the House of Commons on Wednesday prohibiting MPs from doing part-time jobs, with a few “very limited” exceptions.

Johnson said in his tweet that he had written to the House of Commons spokesman to propose bipartisan reforms to the norms system in parliament.

Tweet from Boris Johnson © Twitter

Recommendations from the Prime Minister include an update of MPs’ code of conduct and a ban on MPs working as paid advisers or lobbyists. He said it is important that MPs who prioritize external interests over their voters are “investigated and adequately punished”.

Johnson’s proposals, however, do not preclude MPs from assuming paid director posts or acting as advisors on matters that are not considered political. A well-placed Whitehall official pointed out that there was “a lot of leeway in defining policy advice”.

Johnson himself, as an elected politician, has received £ 4.3m from outside interests, but it has done so through speeches and books rather than advisory work.

The intervention of the prime minister seems to have thwarted Starmer’s attempt to take the political initiative with his demand to stop the “revolving door” between government and state-regulated companies.

Starmer said he had to see the details, but said it would be “a very important victory for the Labor Party” if the Labor motion were actually accepted by Johnson.

Westminster has been rocked by a dirt scandal since Tory MPs voted at Johnson’s behest two weeks ago to revise the system of parliamentary standards.

The parliamentary maneuver was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save Owen Paterson, a colleague the Standard Parliament Guard found for breaking lobbying rules in an “egregious paid legal case”.

After an embarrassing U-turn by the government led to Paterson’s resignation, media coverage shifted to part-time jobs for other Tory MPs, including Sir Geoffrey Cox. The former attorney general is on trial for his role as a tax haven advisor.

Theresa May, the former Prime Minister of Tory, accused Johnson of “damaging” Parliament during a debate in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the House of Commons, admitted Tuesday that trying to save Paterson was a “grave mistake”. On ConservativeHome’s podcast, Rees-Mogg said he personally encouraged the Prime Minister to “go down this path and I was wrong. I made a mistake.”

When asked later by a Labor MP in the House of Commons how the government misjudged the situation, Rees-Mogg said ministers had been influenced by the suicide of Paterson’s wife.

The independent committee on standards in public life recommended in 2018 that certain types of activities, including lobbying, be banned for MPs.

It states: “The MP’s Code of Conduct and the Rules of Procedure should be updated so that MPs do not accept paid work to provide services as a parliamentary strategist, advisor or advisor, e.g. to influence Parliament and its members.”