DOWNING Street plans to crack down on MPs earning megabucks in second jobs have been quietly ditched by ministers.
Boris Johnson had vowed to stop politicians skiving off Parliament to line their pockets as swanky lawyers or company bosses after a national outcry.
And Cabinet ministers had suggested they would back new caps on the number of hours a politician could work in their second career.
But in an astounding U-turn, No10 now say it is “impractical” to cap how much MPs can work or earn on the side.
In its response to a consultation on MPs and second jobs, No10 said: “It is the Government’s initial view that the imposition of fixed constraints such as time limits on the amount of time that Members can spend on outside work would be impractical.”
It also said an earnings cap “could serve to prohibit activities which do not bring undue influence to bear on the political system”.
The PM’s spokesman added: “It is not necessarily the issue of time spent which determines the acceptability of the outside interest, it is what best serves the needs of the constituents, and that can vary.
“For example, placing time limits on MPs’ outside interests may stop MPs with professional service requirements, such as doctors or nurses.
“Setting limits on income from outside interests could prevent MPs from undertaking activities which can enhance their ability to engage with the public.”
Labour frontbencher Thangam Debbonaire lashed the PM over the U-turn.
She fumed: “He can’t just row back on his promises to tighten up the rules on second jobs just because he is in a spot of bother with his backbenchers.”
The thorny issue of MPs and their second jobs was thrown into the spotlight last year when then Tory MP Owen Paterson faced being suspended from Parliament for 30 days after breaking lobbying rules.
Mr Johnson tried to save his old pal’s political career by backing reforms which would have torn up his suspension.
But the move was a massive miscalculation which sparked a furious Tory revolt and threw the PM’s own political career into crisis.
He was forced to U-turn on his opposition and Mr Paterson quit politics soon after.
The whole saga sparked calls for a crackdown on all politicians having second jobs.