A busy, farcical day in the Westminster palace of varieties. Boris Johnson u-turned but simultaneously managed to reverse around Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

The Prime Minister finally caved into pressure and backed a ban on Members of Parliament taking second jobs as consultants. The timing was inconvenient moment for Sir Keir Starmer. The Labour leader had set up a press conference announcing his own second jobs crackdown in a bid to force a potentially damaging vote for the government. Just as he was stepping on stage, the Prime Minister tweeted a photograph of a letter he sent to Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle saying a 2018 recommendation by the Committee on Standards in Public Life into MPs “exploiting their positions” as paid lobbyists should be adopted urgently.

Unlike Starmer, Boris is not calling for all second jobs (bar public service ones) to be prohibited. MPs writing (at critical moments of national crisis) biographies of, say, William Shakespeare, to fulfill large publisher advances already spent, can rest easy.

But the move is likely to irk the life out of some Tory backbenchers. Opposition analysis shows Conservative MPs have received more than £1.7 million in consultancy fees since the start of 2021 – including Cabinet ministers. In total, the proposal would likely affect around 30 MPs, mainly Tories.

Forcing such a reform would require widespread changes to the code of conduct, requiring a formal vote in the Chamber. Downing Street has been doing all it can to try and rectify the sleaze horror show.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told the House he made a “mistake” by conflating his support for reforming the Standards Committee with the Owen Paterson investigation and said the death of the former North Shropshire MP’s wife, Rose, “coloured and clouded our judgment”.