Ten years on, what can the expenses scandal teach MPs about Brexit? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Ten years on, what can the expenses scandal teach MPs about Brexit?

Ten years ago this month, the MPs expense scandal was starting to unfold.

In January 2009, a group of MPs failed in their efforts to avoid having to reveal how they had been claiming public money. Commons authorities then had no choice but to start scanning details of those claims. Which, of course, promptly leaked. Public fury followed.

A newly elected MP at the time, what struck me was how indiscriminate that public anger was. One MP happened to have clumsily included a receipt with details of, as I recall, dog food. As I remember, there was no suggestion that they had even attempted to claim for it. Yet they were vilified almost as much as those MPs who had set out to defraud the taxpayer by claiming for non-existent mortgages.

Such blanket anger implied that people were not just angry over any individual claims – outrageous though some were. Their rage came from a sense that the scandal confirmed something they had long suspected; there was something parasitic about our political system. MPs, it seemed, had been rigging the rules to suit themselves. Those the public elected appeared to answer to each other, not the electorate.

Ten years on, tragically, much of that analysis still stands.

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