SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has resigned from a controversial, £38,967-a-year business position and will step down in March, more than a year after promising to do so.
Around 15 months after saying he would bring his non-political interests to a close in a “timely manner”, Mr Blackford will give up his chairmanship of funeral plan provider Golden Charter Trust next year.
During the period from when the pledge was made in November last year until March Mr Blackford can expect to take home around £48,700 from the trust.
Some politicians, including members of his own party, have argued MPs should not have second jobs on top of their £80,000-a-year positions in the House of Commons.
At a time when we need our politicians to focus on the day job, it is hugely disappointing to hear that Ross, Skye and Lochaber’s MP can afford the time still to be involved in lucrative outside interests. This is particularly galling given the pledge during the election to ‘bring those interests to a close in a timely manner’.”
Craig Harrow of the Lib Dems
When the House of Commons register of interests was updated last month Mr Blackford’s entry said the MP would be paid £3,247.25 a month for eight hours per quarter “until further notice”.
However, it is understood that Mr Blackford has resigned but will stay on until March to ensure there is a smooth transition for his replacement.
In November last year, during the General Election campaign, Mr Blackford told the West Highland Free Press that he was looking to bring his “historic interests” to a close in a “timely manner”, adding they did not distract from his work as an MP.
But Craig Harrow, the Lib Dem who stood against Mr Blackford in the election, said: “At a time when we need our politicians to focus on the day job, it is hugely disappointing to hear that Ross, Skye and Lochaber’s MP can afford the time still to be involved in lucrative outside interests.
“This is particularly galling given the pledge during the election to ‘bring those interests to a close in a timely manner’.
“He said this on November 8 2019, and if it takes him until March next year to step down as chairman of Golden Charter Trust in that period he will have been paid almost £50,000 from this outside interest. People will question whether this period is really doing things in a timely manner.”
Mr Blackford was appointed a trustee of Golden Charter in 2008 and has sat as chairman for the past five years. His register of interests reveals that he stepped down from another lucrative position at the end of last year.
Until December 17 2019, Mr Blackford was chairman of Commsworld – a position he had held from July 2015 and for which he was paid £1,000 per month for eight hours per quarter.
SNP MP Pete Wishart has been among those to argue against politicians having other positions of employment, claiming in 2015 a “second job means a second master”, adding: “There should be no second jobs, no paid directorships, no outside interests with a financial return.”
Mr Blackford declined to comment.