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‘Skint’ Nigel Farage has earned up to £700k on top of his MEP salary

Extra pay: Mr Farage and (below) Mr Verhofstadt PICTURES: REX/EPA

NIGEL FARAGE has pocketed up to £700,000 in outside earnings on top of the £90,000 salary he receives from Brussels, it was claimed yesterday.

The former Ukip leader is sixth on a list of MEPs whose side jobs bring in more than their salaries, said campaign group Transparency International.

Mr Farage claimed in an interview last year he was ‘skint’ because there was ‘no money in politics’.

But he made no attempt to deny the claims about his earnings, which TI said came mainly from appearances on TV and radio dating back to 2014.

Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s chief Brexit co-ordinator, was third in the list drawn up by the Berlin-based group, whose founding purpose is to uncover vested interests and corruption.

The former Belgian prime minister said there was nothing amiss about his outside earnings of almost £1.3million, mostly from investment firm Sofina.

The vintage racing car enthusiast also owns a vineyard in Tuscany.

Mr Verhofstadt’s spokesman said: ‘He has always declared his mandates openly and publicly. He also stresses that he is not lobbying for companies and believes that indeed there should be no lobbying by MPs.’

The top earner on the list was Italian socialist Renato Soru, said to have earned £1.4million on top of his salary.

The entrepreneur, reported by Forbes to have amassed a fortune of £3billion, is co-founder of Italian telecommunications company Tiscali and still serves as a member of its board. Daniel Freund, one of the TI report’s authors, said: ‘Large outside incomes pose a serious risk of conflicts of interest.

‘Whose interests do these MEPs really represent? That of citizens or the interests of those that pay their side jobs?’

The group recommended that the European Parliament should fully enforce the ban on MEPs taking side jobs as lobbyists.

It said members should be made to provide more information about their outside earnings and an independent ethics body should be set up to make sure they stick to the rules.

Mr Farage, who had two spells as leader of Ukip, said earlier this week he was ready to put his name forward to lead the party once more if the government did not deliver a version of Brexit that Leave supporters want.

A spokesman for the 54-year-old said the findings about his earnings in the report were nothing new.

‘Mr Farage has declared his income in the financial declaration like every other MEP. Everybody is welcome to look at it,’ the spokesman told The Times.