May 9, 2021

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Boris Johnson’s Tory government accused of sleaze and cronyism over Greensill Capital scandal

Boris Johnson has been blasted over the “sleaze at the heart of this government” in the row over David Cameron lobbying ministers on behalf of failed bank Greensill Capital.

Keir Starmer told the Prime Minister: “Every day there’s more evidence of the sleaze that’s at the heart of this Conservative government.”

The Labour leader accused the PM of “blocking a proper inquiry” into the affair in Commons clashes at Prime Minister’s Questions.

An on-form Starmer laid into the Tory leader over the scandal that has seen David Cameron approach government Ministers on behalf of the failed finance company he worked for after leaving government.

Starmer said: “The Greensill scandal is just the tip of the iceberg – dodgy contracts, privileged access, jobs for their mates. This is the return of Tory sleaze.”

In a reference to BBC detective drama ‘Line of Duty’ the Labour leader joked: “Ted Hastings and AC-12 are needed to get the bottom of this one”

Starmer added: “Does this prime minister accept there is a revolving door – indeed an open door – between his Conservative government and lobbyists.”

The PM said he shared concerns over lobbying after Cameron was criticised for using his contacts to press the case for failed finance firm Greensill Capital.

Johnson said he could not remember the last time he spoke to Cameron but insisted he’s had no contact with him over the Greensill affair.

He said: “I indeed share the widespread concern about some of the stuff that we’re reading at the moment … and I know that the Cabinet Secretary shares my concern as well,” Johnson told Parliament, saying top civil servants should have experience of the private sector but it was not clear that “those boundaries have been properly understood”.

Johnson told the Commons his “independent” review into lobbying would be delivered to him by June, and would be placed in the House of Commons library afterwards.

The Prime Minister this week ordered a review to be led by lawyer Nigel Boardman – currently a non-executive director at the Business department and the son of a Tory peer.

Johnson accused the Labour party of opposing lobbying legislation in the past and said Starmer was taking advice from a commercial lobbyist, the former Labour Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson.

Starmer said Johnson’s answers were getting “weaker and weaker” over the lobbying controversy, adding: “It really wasn’t a good point. If you think that’s a good point, you’ve got real problems.”

Labour has called for a full parliamentary inquiry into Cameron and Greensill’s connections to the government but Tory MPs have been whipped to vote against the plan in a Commons debate on Wednesday.