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How Boris Johnson raked in £5m in 6 months after leaving office

The former prime minister has made over £25,000 a day in outside earnings since he left Downing Street

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Seth Thévoz
23 March 2023, 2.15pm

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has made millions in outside earnings since leaving office


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Boris Johnson’s outside earnings have now hit £5m in the six months since he left office, new figures suggest.

His latest disclosures, which came as he was grilled by MPs over ‘Partygate’, show he billed over half a million pounds from just two speeches in the last two weeks, before deductions. Johnson also earns an £84,000-a-year salary as an MP.

The outside earnings totalled £4.985m – that's over £25,000 a day since he left Downing Street.

He has also received some £1.1m in donations for his MP’s office – the bulk of it consisting of a £1m donation from Thailand-based business tycoon and Brexit Party donor Christopher Harborne. He also has £85,000-a-year’s worth of free office space and bills, all provided by Investors in Private Capital Ltd, the firm of property developer and Tory party donor Jamie Reuben.

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Second, third and fourth jobs

In January, Johnson received a £2.5m advance from the Harry Walker Agency in New York for his future speaking engagements. This was after he made more than £1m for giving four speeches, booked through the agency, between October and December 2022. He also takes speaker bookings directly through his office.

Johnson’s speaking fees have seen him jetting to Lisbon, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, Pennsylvania, Singapore and Washington DC, to speak to corporate clients. They include Brand Finance PLC, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, investment bank Centerview Partners, the Hindustan Times, law firm Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, software giant ParallelChain Lab, Portuguese TV channel Televisão Independente, property developer Ballymore Group, Indian conglomerate the Aditya Birla Group, and Bloomberg Singapore.

The latest figures show how Johnson’s £2.5 million advance works: two speeches, each listed as involving 7 or 7.5 hours of work for preparation, travel and delivery, have each billed over £260,000; although over £180,000 for each speech has been deducted by the agency as being covered by the advance, leaving the former PM with £158,000. This suggests Johnson’s advance covers around 14 quarter-of-a–million-pound speeches, and could see over £1.1 million pounds come in on top of the advance.

He has also received £36,000 of free hospitality at UK airports, with his entourage enjoying the hospitality of either the Windsor Suite at Heathrow Airport or the Sussex Suite at Gatwick Airport at least 20 times.

In January, Johnson also reported a £510,000 advance from HarperCollins for his memoirs. Advances are usually paid in several instalments, prompting speculation that Johnson has signed a book deal that could earn him up to £6m.

An earlier £88,000 payment for a book on Shakespeare was paid by Hodder & Stoughton, reportedly part of a £500,000 advance; but several years later, the book has still not appeared. However, new figures show that last month, Johnson took a further £42,500 advance from Hodder & Stoughton, suggesting work may have resumed.

Johnson’s writings have often netted him huge sums of money. Until he became foreign secretary in 2016, Johnson was a star columnist for The Daily Telegraph – earning him £250,000 a year, which he famously described as “chicken feed” in 2009.

Last October, a month after leaving office, The Office of Boris Johnson Ltd was set up by Shelley Williams-Walker, and then taken over by Ann Sindall. Both women have been long-term Johnson aides.

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Bills paid – by others

Johnson ran into financial troubles while he was prime minister, despite his £164,000 salary, and a pattern emerged of party donors covering his expenses.

The most high-profile example was the “cash for curtains” scandal.

Johnson nearly exhausted the £30,000 public grant that can be spent each year on the prime minister’s 11 Downing Street residence, by spending £28,000 just on paint and sandpapering floorboards. That left an outstanding bill of £52,000 bill for the luxury refurb of the flat, which he paid first by an off-the-books ‘bridging loan’ from the Conservative Party, and then by an undeclared £67,000 loan from the company of Tory donor Lord Brownlow, in October 2020 – £52,000 of that in bills, and a further £15,000 for “an event”, according to the regulator. In addition to the £67,000, Lord Brownlow had also paid a further £59,000 for Johnson’s Downing Street redecoration bills, directly to the suppliers.

The Electoral Commission ended up issuing fines of £17,800 to the Conservative Party, and £16,250 to Lord Brownlow’s company, criticising the Tory party for “a lack of regard for the law” in these arrangements.

Shortly after ‘cash for curtains’ became public in February 2021, Johnson paid back the £52,000 himself. It has still not been established where the money for this came from.

It recently emerged that as prime minister, Johnson had an undisclosed £800,000 credit facility from his millionaire Canadian cousin, Sam Blyth, which was arranged in December 2020.

Johnson also took several free holidays while he was running the country, with the costs met by friends. Zac Goldsmith, a close family friend who Johnson made a peer and minister in 2019, lent Johnson his villa near Marbella, Spain in 2021. The value of the free holiday was not disclosed.

Before that, he took a December 2019 holiday to Mustique, funded by Tory donor David Ross. An ethics investigation cleared all parties of any impropriety, but criticised the “haphazard” arrangements.

Johnson also received £27,000 of luxury organic food deliveries for eight months, hand-delivered to Downing Street by the butler of billionaire Tory donor Lord Bamford. Johnson was reportedly given the food at “cost price” of under £19,000, but never declared the £8,000 subsidy.

Several of the former prime minister’s suits were also paid for by Lord Bamford, chair of the JCB construction company, according to Private Eye.

Since Johnson left Downing Street, Lord and Lady Bamford have also been providing “concessionary use of accommodation” for the ex-PM and his family in two properties, one of which has a value of £10,000 a month, the other £3,500 a month. The Bamfords also hosted a wedding party for Boris and Carrie at their Cotswold estate last July.

Growing property portfolio

It was reported last week that Johnson had agreed to buy a £4m, nine-bedroom house with a moat in Oxfordshire.

He also owns another property in Oxfordshire, which served as his constituency home when he was the MP for Henley (2001-08) and is currently rented out.

He has also recently bought a five-bedroom house thought to be worth over £3m, on the border of the leafy south London suburbs of Herne Hill and Dulwich, according to reports, although this has not been confirmed in the register of members’ interests. The register does, however, confirm that last November the Johnsons sold their home in Camberwell – to which police were famously called by neighbours after a loud altercation in June 2019.

Johnson also retains a 20% share of the Somerset farm where he grew up, which is jointly owned with his father and three siblings.

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.

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