THE former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock have been caught in a sting offering to work for a fake company for £10,000 a day.

The anti-Brexit campaign group Led by Donkeys filmed the pair setting out their rates to advise a non-existent firm in South Korea.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing, as MPs are allowed to take outside work provided they do not act as lobbyists, but Labour called their behaviour “shameful”.

Appearing on the Sunday morning media round, UK Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove defended his former cabinet colleagues, saying the market decided the rate for MPs’ services.

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However he also said the electorate was the final judge on MPs’ conduct.

Mr Hancock, who was stripped of the party whip by Rishi Sunak for going on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity last year during parliament, said he had an hourly rate of “around £1500”.

Asked in an online “interview” if had a daily rate, he said: “I do, yes. It is 10,000 sterling.”

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said the West Suffolk MP had “acted entirely properly and within the rules”.

Asked the same questions, Mr Kwarteng said: “I would say as an MP, obviously I don’t need to earn a king’s ransom. 

“But I wouldn’t do anything less than for about 10,000 dollars a month.”

Mr Kwarteng, whose mini-budget last September sent the pound tumbling and mortgage rates soaring, went on to clarify that he would prefer the rate to be in pound sterling.

Told by a fake employee of the company they were considering offering between £8,000 and £12,000 per day, with the intention for him to attend six board meetings a year, Mr Kwarteng said: “OK yes, we’re not a million miles off. We can work with the numbers.”

Led By Donkeys said it created a sham company called Hanseong Consulting, setting up a website and paying for a so-called “fake virtual office” in the South Korean capital Seoul.

After consulting the register of MPs’ interests, it approached 20 MPs from different parties asking if they would join the phoney firm’s international advisory board.

The group said the “company” was aiming to expand into the UK and Europe, asking any would-be advisers to attend pretend board meetings held in a mix of locations, including allegedly in South Korea.

According to its preview video posted on social media, Led By Donkeys said 16 of the MPs approached were Tory, two Labour, one a Liberal Democrat and the other an independent.

Out of those contacted, five are said to have progressed to an online interview stage, including Mr Hancock and four Tories: Mr Kwarteng, former education secretary Sir Gavin Williamson, former minister Stephen Hammond and Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential backbench 1922 Committee.

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Sir Graham, according to the video, said he was “thinking something like £60,000 as an annual rate” for assisting the firm.

In a statement sent to PA news agency, he said he had made clear to those behind the hoax that any work would have to fall “within the terms of the Code of Conduct”.

Mr Hammond is also seen in a video published yesterday, but no details of what was said has been aired as yet.

Led By Donkeys said Sir Gavin turned down the opportunity to take discussions any further.

MPs are permitted to have second jobs on top of their role representing constituents.

But external employment opportunities for those in Westminster have come under the spotlight in recent years, following former Tory cabinet minister Owen Paterson’s suspension from the Commons for breaching lobbying rules in 2021.

He later quit Parliament following a furore after Boris Johnson’s administration attempted to rip up the standards body that dished out the punishment.

A spokesperson for Mr Hancock said: “The accusation appears to be that Matt acted entirely properly and within the rules, which had just been unanimously adopted by Parliament.

“It’s completely untrue to suggest any wrongdoing and therefore absurd to bring Mr Hancock into this story through the illegal publication of a private conversation.

“All the video shows is Matt acting completely properly.”

Sir Graham said: “Having decided to leave the Commons at the next election, I have received a number of approaches regarding future opportunities.

“I did have an exploratory discussion with someone purporting to be recruiting an international advisory board for a South Korean investment house.

“I made it clear that any arrangement would have to be completely transparent and that whilst a Member of Parliament, I would only act within the terms of the Code of Conduct.

“I also made it clear that whilst I could be flexible in attending international meetings in person, this would be subject to some important votes or commitments in Westminster.”

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Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow Commons leader, called on Mr Sunak to strip the Tories caught up in the sting of the whip.

She said: “Being an MP is a full-time job. Tory MPs should not be using their taxpayer funded offices to line their own pockets. This is shameful at any time but particularly during the cost-of-living crisis.”

She added: “Labour will put an end to MPs raking in thousands of pounds on the side and act to restore trust in politics.”

Appearing on BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Gove was asked if he thought either Mr Hancock or Mr Kwartengwas worth £10,000 a day.

He replied: “The market as it were, decides many of these things.

“But the most important thing is not these negotiations, the most important thing is what every member of parliament does for their constituents. 

“So you can have people who are both members of parliament but also do other work. 

“So Maria Caulfield, my colleague, is a nurse alongside being a health minister.”

Asked again whether he thought either MSP was in principle worth £10,000 a day, even if it wasn’t breaking any rules, Mr Gove said: “I’m not a commentator.

“I don’t pass judgment on other members of parliament. 

“There are rules that govern what members of parliament should do and what they should declare. But the jury here is the constituency.

“So it will be the case, come a general election, if Matt and Kwasi choose to stand again that their constituents will decide.

“I think they’re both talented people with a lot to offer in the future, but ultimately they will have to answer for the decisions that they've taken.”

Mr Gove also told Sky News’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday: “On this occasion, I think it is pretty clear that things that were offered and considered were within the rules.

“But inevitably all of us will reflect on this and think the first duty of a Member of Parliament is towards their constituents.

“And ultimately, the really important thing is, is an MP delivering for their constituents, is a Member of Parliament doing everything they can to put public service first?”

It was reported earlier week that former Tory PM Liz Truss has nominated four of her closest advisers for peerages in a resignation honours list despite being in No10 just 49 days.

Asked if Mr Truss should be able to nominate people after such a short time in office, Mr Gove told Ms Kuenssberg: “I think that is a matter for the Prime Minister. I don't think I should speculate on what has in itself been speculation about honours.”