JCB paid Boris Johnson £10,000 three days before he gave a speech at its headquarters last week in which he repeatedly praised the company’s business acumen and innovation, it has emerged.
The payment was disclosed on the new register of MPs’ financial interests, which also shows that JCB – owned by Anthony Bamford, a pro-Brexit Conservative peer and donor – is paying the former Brexit secretary David Davis £60,000 a year as an “external adviser”.
Johnson’s speech in Staffordshire was primarily about Brexit and widely seen as a pitch for the Conservative leadership. However, he also mentioned JCB a number of times, noting at the start how the company had sold nearly 750,000 units of one model of digger.
Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary last summer in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit plans, went on to praise JCB in the speech for demonstrating “the optimism and relentless technological innovation that I believe should be the hallmarks of the next phase of Brexit”.
Later in the speech he described the history of the firm and the global sales of their diggers and tractors, saying: “Nothing and no one will stop their spread.” He called on politicians to “emulate the spirit of JCB”.
The register of interests shows that Johnson, the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who is paid almost £23,000 a month for his Daily Telegraph column, received £28,900 for a separate single speaking engagement in December.
It also details almost £100,000 in extra income for Davis since his return to the backbenches. The £60,000 role for JCB is for 20 hours of work a year, amounting to £3,000 an hour.
Another of Davis’s new interests is a role as board member for Mansfelder Kupfer und Messing (MKM), a German metals manufacturing company, for which he was paid £36,085 for the six months from December. The register says he is also “eligible for the management incentive plan”.
Davis has worked for MKM before. It is owned by a UK investment company led by Ian Hannam, a sometimes controversial banker who has been close to Davis for years.
In 2012, Hannam was fined £450,000 by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for “market abuse” after it was found he had passed inside information to a prospective client. Hannam denied this, but an appeal was rejected. At the time Davis criticised the fine, calling it “an incredible extension of what constitutes insider trading by the FSA”.
At the time the case began, Davis had no financial relationship with Hannam, a fellow former member of 21 SAS Reserve Regiment. But during the appeal Davis was appointed to the supervisory board of MKM, to which he has now returned.
The entries for both Davis and Johnson say they have consulted the government’s advisory committee on business appointments, which rules on the sort of jobs former ministers and other senior government figures can do after departing, to avoid issues such as potential conflicts of interest.
While MPs can take outside jobs, within certain parameters, serving ministers cannot, which can mean their overall income falls despite the extra ministerial salary.
Geoffrey Cox, when he was made attorney general in July, had to give up his private QC activities, which had made him anything up to £600,000 a year on top of his MP’s salary.