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27th Sep 2020

Brexit Party MEPs have biggest side earnings

  • Brexit MEPs are potentially more exposed to conflicts of interest than others, given their above average outside earnings (Photo: European Parliament)

Freshly-elected MEPs from the UK's new Brexit Party and the Italian far-right League earn more money on the side than any other delegation in the European Parliament.

The findings, revealed by the Transparency International (TI) Brussels-office on Thursday (26 September), compared the declared financial activities of all 748 MEPs, and found total side earnings could be as much as €16m per year.

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The NGO found that the 29 Brexit Party MEPs collectively earn anywhere between €2,064,468 and €4,683,916 a year pre-tax, figures that can be crossed checked on its EU Integrity Watch platform.

The League's 28 MEPs pull in between €369,192 and €1,067,952 pre-tax.

And out of all the MEPs, five Brexit Party representatives rank in the top ten, including Nigel Farage (who previously led the Ukip MEP group), who rakes in some €360,000 per year.

The absolute top earner goes to his fellow Brexit colleague Benyamin Habib, whose declared annual side earnings hover around €960,000 before tax.

The bulk of that money comes from his executive post at First Property Group, a commercial property fund, where he declared €40,000 a month income.

Habib also receives a discretionary bonus from the fund, meaning when spread across 12 months, it averages out to €80,000 a month.

This comes on top of the MEP base base salary of €8,757.70 per month, as well another €4,500 of public money to cover monthly expenses.

Habib currently sits on the committee on economic and monetary affairs, tasked to legislate on a whole range of policies in the field.

Other Brexit Party notables in the top ranking include Ann Widdecombe, a former Conservative minister who earns anywhere between €240,000 to €480,000 before tax.

Aside from working as columnist for the Daily Express, a British tabloid where she earns between €5,001 to €10,000 gross a month, she also declared €20,000 for speaking and broadcasting.

"She participated in a TV show and she received a big lump sum for that one and the European Parliament told her to divide it by monthly income," TI told this website.

Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe ranked fourth, just behind Widdecombe, pulling in between €204,000 and €444,000 before tax. For his part, another Brexit Party MEP, Richard Tice, declared 29 different activities outside his work as an MEP, earning him up to €360,000 pre-tax as well.

Nick Aiossa, head of EU advocacy at TI is demanding than an EU independent ethics body is set up to weed out potential conflicts of interest.

"It must be ensured that this ethics body is well-resourced, can initiate investigations, give binding recommendations, and issue sanctions," he said, in a statement.

Other big side earners include Poland's centrist MEP Radoslaw Sikorski, with between €588,000 and €804,000 pre-tax.

The income range of Belgium's former prime minister and Brexit point man for the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, is anywhere between €200,000 and €444,000 pre-tax.

Conflicts of interest loom for Brexit Party MEPs

New Brexit Party MEP June Alison Mummery is the director of a company active in the fishing industry. She just joined the EU parliament's fisheries committee as a substitute member.

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