In a constituency that comprises some of the worst deprivation in this region and beyond, there is something paradoxical about its parliamentary representative Sir Brandon Lewis.

'Seven jobs' Lewis is reported to be earning £500,000 from a string of lucrative “second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh roles, that incidentally include that of Great Yarmouth’s MP.

What a contrast to fellow Norfolk Conservative MP George Freeman who, like Sir Brandon, is also a former government minister. Mr Freeman recently stood down as minister for science, research and innovation to “free up some time to be able to look after my core responsibilities: constituency (Mid Norfolk), family and wellbeing”.

He explained: “As with any busy public service job, it’s not a nine-to-five role but a vocation…and families, friends and work-life balance tend to suffer”.

So just how does 'seven jobs' manage the duty to his constituents in an area where latest figures show around 2,000 people aged 16 and over are unemployed – a rate of 4.8per cent?

In 2018, The Committee on Standards in Public Life produced a report “MPs’ Outside Interests”, looking into the changing nature of representative democracy.

It recognised the working hours of Parliament had changed to more closely reflect a standard working week, and that the volume of constituency work had increased.

It accepted that, while the majority of MPs did not hold remunerated outside interests, a number of MPs did hold outside interests that could be considered within “reasonable limits”.

But it warned: “Where a small number of individuals have taken up outside interests beyond what might be considered reasonable, it risks undermining trust in Parliament and Parliamentarians.”

Sadly, that report was put on the back burner. Then last year the government ditched plans to cap MPs’ income from second jobs, just months after the issue provoked a sleaze scandal that plunged Boris Johnson’s government into crisis.

The promised clampdown followed the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal and a furore over Geoffrey Cox being paid nearly £6m as a lawyer since joining Parliament, voting by proxy on days he was undertaking paid work.

Sir Brandon is not alone in supplementing his £86,584 MP salary since the U-turn on capping by former PM Johnson. A string of others took on new outside roles.

According to analysis in The Guardian newspaper, figures show MPs have been paid £10m from second jobs and freelance work over the past year, largely driven by the size of Boris Johnson’s multi-million earnings, as well as former Tory ministers taking up a series of highly paid roles.

Former prime ministers Theresa May and Liz Truss were both paid six figures for giving speeches, while the former health secretary Matt Hancock registered about £450,000 from media appearances, speeches and his book.

Maybe Sir Brandon is super-efficient and works nights, so could readily defend accusations that you cannot serve seven masters and still properly represent the constituents who gave you their vote at the last general election.

Then there is the issue of trust, highlighted by The Committee of Standards in Public Life and the sacred “Seven Principles”: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

“Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles, and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs,” says the Standards Committee.

One of Sir Brandon’s jobs is set to earn him £250,000 for advising a company partly owned by two sanctioned Russian oligarchs. He will give one day a week of his time as a senior adviser for investment firm LetterOne.

So, seven jobs vs seven principles. Make of that what you will.

Perhaps that will be in the minds of the voters in Great Yarmouth when the General Election is called any time between now and December 17, 2024, with polling by January 28 2025 at the latest.

The latest YouGov/Times voting intention poll shows the Conservatives on 21 per cent of the vote (-2 from the previous survey on November 7-8) to Labour's 44 per cent (-3).

Call me a cynic, but I can’t help thinking that Sir Brandon and his multi-jobs colleagues are lining their pockets as insurance against losing their seats at the next general election. 

Peter Franzen OBE is a former editor of the EDP