May’s millions 

Theresa May has earned more outside parliament since leaving Number 10 than any other MP, and nine times more than she earned in her two years as prime minister.

Catherine Neilan

May has been paid £2.5 million for speaking engagements since 2019. That includes a six-figure fee for a speech in Saudi Arabia and is more than double the outside earnings of Boris Johnson since his stint in Downing Street – although he is expected to overtake her soon. 

The two ex-prime ministers are among 25 MPs who have earned more outside parliament since the last general election than from their salaries. A larger group of 36 MPs have earned more than £100,000 outside parliament overall in the same period. 

In total, MPs have earned £17.2 million from second jobs, but the vast majority of that money has gone to a relatively small number of people: 20 MPs receive more than two thirds of their income from second jobs. In fact, May’s outside earnings account for nearly 16 per cent of the total.

The top 5 earners are all Conservative MPs: 

  • Theresa May – £2.55 million
  • Geoffrey Cox – £2.19 million
  • Boris Johnson – £1.06 million
  • Fiona Bruce – £711,749
  • John Redwood – £692,438

May’s clients for speaking engagements have included JPMorgan, the US investment bank, and Deutsche Bank, but she often doesn’t say who she is speaking to. 

One fee for £107,600 from the World Travel and Tourism Council was for a speech to a conference in Riyadh. The largest single item she has declared is £408,200 from the Cambridge Speaker Series, for six speeches last spring. She is the only MP to have registered any payments from this firm, which is based in California.

Other US-based speaking agencies which May has received six-figure sums from include the Washington Speakers Bureau and the Distinguished Speaker Series. Again, precisely who she was speaking to – and what was said – remains unclear. 

These earnings are among thousands of payments to MPs and associated bodies brought together by the Westminster Accounts tool, a searchable database developed by Tortoise and Sky News which makes it possible to create leader boards and league tables showing where the largest sums flow from and to.

The payments are from lobbyists and – often in kind – from all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs; informal networks of MPs often supported financially by companies seeking to forward an agenda) as well as second jobs. But not all second jobs are created equal. 

Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, lost the whip for his stint in the Australian jungle – the earnings for which had not been registered at the time of writing. But little is said of the many other sidelines supplementing MPs’ wages over many more hours and with much less clarity over the ultimate source of income.