Rishi Sunak: former chancellor eligible for 5-figure severance payout - despite being back as Prime Minister

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Some outgoing MPs could earn more from their severance payouts than they did for the job they had in government

Rishi Sunak is entitled to a five-figure Cabinet severance payout after he quit as Chancellor, despite returning as the new Prime Minister.

Sunak is now being paid £159,000 per year as Prime Minister, however he could be paid an additional £16,876 as compensation for leaving the Cabinet in July. A number of other MPs who have returned to Cabinet roles under the new Prime Minister, having left government in the last few months, could also be set to receive severance payments despite now being back in office.

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A No 10 spokesperson declined to comment on whether Sunak would accept the payment, or whether he would encourage ministers in his Cabinet to forgo them.

The compensation is for three months’ salary – but several returning ministers have not been out of a job for three months, meaning they stand to earn more having left and come back than they would have if they had remained in their role.

Additionally, several MPs who lost out in Tuesday’s (25 October) reshuffle could receive the “loss of office” payments despite being in their jobs for just over six weeks, having been appointed by Liz Truss.

Senior returning figures including Michael Gove and Dominic Raab would have been entitled to receive payments, while outgoing MP Chloe Smith, Robert Buckland and Wendy Morton will be eligible for the payouts if they are not given new government jobs within the next three weeks.

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More than £240,000 in severance could be paid out to senior MPs who either returned to or left government in Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

MPs appointed under Truss could earn more from severance than from their government roles

Ministers are entitled to a “loss of office” severance payout amounting to a quarter of the annual salary for the role if they resign or are sacked from government, on the condition that they do not take on another government role within three weeks. They must also be under the age of 65 when they leave office to be eligible for the payment.

Three MPs – Chloe Smith, Robert Buckland and Ranil Jayawardena – who were appointed by Truss as secretaries of state in September but who will not be part of Sunak’s Cabinet, could receive payouts of almost £17,000 each – more than what they earned in their less than two months on the job.

Vicky Ford and Jake Berry, former senior ministers who attended Cabinet, will also be eligible for the payments, after both were first appointed by Truss last month.

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Wendy Morton was appointed Chief Whip by Truss in September and made headlines when she reportedly quit during a tense vote on fracking in Parliament, only to later confirm she had not resigned.

Morton confirmed on Tuesday that she would not be serving in Sunak’s team, and as such could be entitled to a payment worth around £8,000 - equal to three months’ salary for the role she held for around six weeks.

Returning ministers were eligible for three-months payouts despite returning after two months

Additionally, a number of senior Conservatives who left government in recent months, some in protest at Boris Johnson and others who were not kept on by Liz Truss, will have been entitled to receive the payments despite now returning to government.

These include Sunak, who resigned in July and returned to government as Prime Minister, this week. He was entitled to a ‘loss of office’ payment worth around £17,000. When asked by NationalWorld whether Sunak would accept the payment and whether he would encourage ministers in his Cabinet to decline the money, a No 10 spokesperson declined to comment.

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As they were out of government for less than three months, some MPs will have been paid more in total having left office and then returned than they would have if they’d remained in their jobs throughout –  if they have opted to take the payments.

They are:

  • Dominic Raab. Left job as Secretary of State for Justice on 6 September. Reappointed on 25 October 
  • Steve Barclay. Left job as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 6 September. Reappointed on 25 October 
  • Johnny Mercer. Left job as Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs on 6 September. Reappointed on 25 October 

Barclay (who had held his job for less than three months before leaving in September) and Raab were entitled to payments of around £17,000. Michael Gove was also entitled to £17,000 having left office as Secretary of State for Levelling Up in July, although that was more than three months ago. He was also reappointed yesterday.

Johnny Mercer, who Sunak has brought back into government to reprise a Cabinet-attending ministerial role he was given by Johnson in July after the former PM had announced his intention to step down, could also be entitled to a severance payout despite only holding the role for around two months before leaving and now being back in the same job.

Suella Braverman is returning as Home Secretary after resigning, but would not be entitled to a payout as she resigned less than three weeks ago. Ministers may also choose to opt-out of receiving the payments, as was the case for Michelle Donelan after she resigned as education secretary in July having been in the role for less than two days.

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After around 50 MPs resigned from the government in a bid to force Johnson out of Downing Street in July, the makeshift Cabinet put together by Johnson in his bid to cling to power included two MPs who were newly appointed to government, did not remain in place under Truss, and haven’t been brought back into government by Sunak.

Greg Clark and Shailesh Vara served as the levelling up and Northern Ireland secretaries respectively, each for around two months, but would have been eligible to receive severance payments worth around £17,000 each. It is not clear if they took the payments, as severance payouts are detailed in the relevant departments’ annual reports, which are yet to be published.

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