YVONNE FOVARGUE MP - Tories and cronyism go hand in hand

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has been in the news for his lobbying of the Government.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 10:55 am
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 10:58 am
Yvonne Fovargue MP

Last week, Sir Keir Starmer asked the current Prime Minister how was it that Greensill Capital - a company employing David Cameron - got the green light to give hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer-backed loans.

Labour called for the establishment of a cross-party Select Committee to investigate allegations of cronyism concerning former Prime Minister David Cameron and the company Greensill Capital. I supported the motion because I believe that, after a string of recent revelations, David Cameron and the current Government have questions to answer.

These include why Lex Greensill was given a desk inside Downing Street while Mr Cameron was Prime Minister and how it was that Greensill Capital, with Mr Cameron’s involvement, got the green light to give hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer-backed loans.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In the debate, the Government confirmed its intention only to establish an “independent review” into the awarding of the loans and opposed the Opposition motion.

In my opinion, a narrowly focused review as proposed by the Government is wholly inadequate. Moreover, at the Prime Minister’s behest, it will be chaired by Nigel Boardman, a consultant at the law firm Slaughter and May, even though Mr Boardman has been paid over £20,000 per year as a non-executive director at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which in turn overseas the British Business Bank, which lent to Greensill, and the British steel industry.

Furthermore, Mr Boardman was appointed as a trustee of the British Museum by David Cameron. For these reasons, I do not believe Mr Broadman would be an appropriate chair.

Instead, as the Opposition motion proposed, I believe the allegations of cronyism should be examined in public by an independent cross-party committee of backbench MPs with the power to call witnesses and examine documents.

During the debate, further concerns were raised about the fact that the Prime Minister has yet to appoint a new independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests, almost six months after the last holder of the post, Sir Alex Allen, resigned after the Prime Minister backed Priti Patel despite a report Sir Alex had compiled which concluded the Home Secretary’s past conduct “amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying.” Besides the delay in appointing Sir Alex’s replacement, there has been a troubling hiatus in the publication of the List of Ministerial Interests.

The List is supposed to be published twice a year, but it was published only once last year, in July, and not at all since then.

Unfortunately, Tory MPs voted against the establishment of a Select Committee to conduct an independent inquiry.

However, I will continue to support calls for a proper investigation into these issues.

I believe action must be taken to close loopholes in the law, better regulate lobbyists and lift standards in public office to ensure that something like this cannot happen again.

Thank you for reading. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription. Thanks again.