Politics latest news: David Cameron hung out to dry but Tories close ranks on Greensill inquiry

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Cat Neilan
·52 min read
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Conservative MPs were quick to criticise David Cameron during a debate on lobbying and sleaze - but closed ranks over Labour's call to launch a new Parliament-led inquiry into the Greensill scandal.

Several Tories distanced the party from the actions of the former prime minister during this afternoon's opposition day debate, amid an onslaught of accusations from opposition MPs that the party had returned to the "Tory sleaze" of the 1990s.

Andrew Bowie, the MP for West Aberdeenshire, said: ": "We all condemn the actions that are alleged to have taken place regarding Greensill and the involvement of the former prime minister. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth."

Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: "The revelations and allegations that have come to light in recent days are clearly concerning and do raise a number of very serious questions.

Sir Bob Seely noted the former prime minister "may or may not be flawed", adding: "I hope in some way he can explain himself rather better than he's doing."

William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove, said it was "not seemly" of Mr Cameron to have issued his statement during the mourning period for the Duke of Edinburgh, but stressed the focus on him was likely a "red herring".

"It is no doubt a tasteless, slapdash and unbecoming episode for any former prime minister, but is it the central issue?" he added.

Earlier today Boris Johnson suggested that some of the "boundaries" between civil servants and business have not been "properly understood".

The Prime Minister yesterday refused to give his old university pal his backing, saying it was "a matter for the Boardman review".

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:14 PM

MPs vote against Labour's motion for separate Greensill inquiry

MPs have voted against Labour’s motion on a committee to investigate individuals who have been caught up in the Greensill scandal.

Ayes: 262

No: 357

The Nos have it.

03:11 PM

Officials carry out surge testing in Barnett

While we have been watching the debate this afternoon another area in London has been put into surge testing after a case of the South African variant of coronavirus was detected.

Teams of officials will go door-to-door in areas of Barnett with the N3 postcode to deliver PCR test kits and a mobile testing unit will be set up in the car park of Finchley Central Station.

A statement on the council's website said: "The South African variant of Covid-19 has been found in Barnet.

"From Thursday 15 April we will start testing people for this variant in specific postcode areas affected in N3 or those who shop on the local high street."

03:06 PM

Boris Johnson to announce ministerial standards adviser 'shortly'

A minister has revealed that the replacement for Sir Alex Allan will be announced "shortly".

Sir Alex resigned five months ago as Boris Johnson's adviser on ministerial standards, in the fall-out of his report into the bullying allegations against Priti Patel.

This was raised by Labour at the start of this afternoon's debate as proof that the Government was not taking the matter seriously.

But Julia Lopez said: "I hope it will be of reassurance to members that the appointment.... is going to have an announcement made on it shortly."

Ms Lopez also praised the "unforgiving" select committees that have carried out scrutiny of the Government, as she reiterates the position that there is no need for a new committee.

And deputy speaker Dame Eleanor Laing calls a division for MPs to vote....

03:02 PM

Existing system has been 'tested' by Greensill scandal, minister admits

A minister has insisted the system designed to ensure proper behaviour and transparency "worked as it should" but has been "tested" by the Greensill scandal.

But Julia Lopez, a junior minister in the Cabinet Office, tells the Commons "it would be disingenuous to suggest this existing framework has not been tested by the extreme circumstances of the pandemic".

She notes that the "broader issues raised in recent days about Greensill have posed questions that we are as keen as anyone to probe".

The Government "has not been waiting around for the opposition to table a motion", she adds, noting that a consultation into the Lobbying Act is underway, as well as looking to improve Acoba and other areas.

02:56 PM

Tory MPs should 'show some backbone', says shadow chancellor

Conservative MPs know "their constituents are appalled" by the allegations of sleaze, Anneliese Dodds says.

They should consider the impact it will have on their "integrity" when they vote this afternoon, the shadow chancellor adds.

"Members should ask themselves why they are being asked to defend these events," she tells the Tory benches.

"Show some backbone, vote for a full transparent Parliament-led inquiry to get to the bottom of this scandal once and for all."

02:52 PM

Rishi Sunak 'hasn't been seen since Greensill collapsed', says Labour MP

Rishi Sunak "hasn't been seen in this House since the day after Greensill collapsed", says Anneliese Dodds.

She calls the Chancellor "frit" and says he is "running scared", noting he has "forgotten his enthusiastic communications about his loan schemes".

She notes that where once he tweeted proudly with the hashtag "ask Rishi".

"We would love to ask Rishi but we have to find him first," she adds. "He must be the first Chancellor in history to go on the record about having no idea about who was getting access to hundreds of millions of pounds f public money and how they were obtaining it."

02:49 PM

Conservative sleaze is back, says shadow chancellor

"Conservative sleaze is back," the shadow chancellor has said as she wraps up Labour's debate on Greensill.

But this time "the difference is scale", says Anneliese Dodds. "This time we are talking about hundreds of millions of pounds of public money put at risk - and thousands of jobs."

She attacks the "complacent and cavalier attitude" among the Government, including the "former Conservative prime minister who thought there was nothing wrong with texting the sitting Chancellor and two of his ministers to ask for special treatment for the financial services firm who were paying his wages".

She notes that Rishi Sunak "thought there was nothing wrong with pushing his team to see if they could amend a government loan scheme" for Greensill and Matt Hancock "thought there was nothing wrong" with meeting Mr Cameron and Lex Greensill socially.

02:22 PM

Downing Street defends vaccine film a month after trailer released

Downing Street has defended the production of a film about the UK's "extraordinary" vaccine programme which is yet to be released more than a month after a trailer was posted online.

Officials have refused to set out how much A Beacon Of Hope: The UK Vaccine Story has cost, or how much was paid for the dramatic music which accompanied the online teaser.

The trailer was released on March 10, with the full version billed as "coming soon" and officials indicating it would have been released later that week.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said "the documentary will be published" and insisted "this was produced entirely in house by No 10 staff as part of their work" and within the existing budget for the digital communications team.

Asked whether it was right that taxpayers' money was spent on a promotional film, the spokesman said: "It's important that the public are able to understand this important public health issue about the vaccine rollout."

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02:15 PM

David Cameron's lobbying 'leaves a bad taste in the mouth', says Tory MP

David Cameron's actions "leave a bad taste in the mouth", a Conservative backbencher has said.

His lobbying on behalf of Greensill "does tarnish us all", Andrew Bowie, the MP for West Aberdeenshire added.

But Labour's motion is "blatant, tawdry politics," he says.

"Even worse than that is the stench of hypocrisy that lingers in the air," he adds, noting that shadow defence secretary John Healy wrote to Nadhim Zahawi asking for him to grant "expand Greensill's access to Government funds".

02:11 PM

Biggest issue is hostile states, not 'flawed individuals', says senior Tory

A senior Conservative MP has said the focus should not be on "flawed" individuals but on hostile action from states who seek to "manipulate laws and influence public opinion".

Sir Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight, told the Commons that a system that is "largely based on trust means that when that system is abused it is easy to do so and often difficult to understand the ways in which it is being corrupted".

He added that he was "sorry to hear [David Cameron] has done this as I quite like the guy and hope he can explain himself better than he has done so far".

But the "systemic threat... is not necessarily from specific individuals who may or may not be flawed, but from states who used covert influence to try to manipulate laws and influence and public opinion on other people's countries," he added.

01:59 PM

Arlene Foster admits using 'clumsy' language in comment about loyalist rioting

Arlene Foster has said she used "clumsy" wording in a tweet about last week's loyalist rioting in Northern Ireland.

In a tweet condemning the hijack and destruction of a bus during riots on the loyalist Shankill Road last week, Mrs Foster suggested the incident would take the focus off the "real law breakers" in Sinn Fein. The DUP leader has been outspoken in her criticism of those who attended the Bobby Storey funeral last year, in breach of Covid regulations.

Appearing before her Assembly scrutiny committee, Mrs Foster was challenged on the remark by SDLP committee chair Colin McGrath.

"I hope, chair, that there's not going to be any mischief made today about clumsy wording when I have been unequivocal in my condemnation of violence from all sides during this past week and indeed, can I say, I've always been unequivocal in my condemnation of violence throughout my long time in elected office."

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01:47 PM

Cameron’s Downing Street promoted Greensill to business, leak reveals

A senior adviser to David Cameron in Downing Street encouraged an organisation for small businesses to promote the “supply chain finance guru” Lex Greensill to its members, raising further questions over the Australian financier’s political influence.

Tim Luke, then a civil servant in the former prime minister’s policy unit, attempted to introduce the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to Mr Greensill in March 2013, an email seen by The Telegraph reveals.

Using a Downing Street email address, Mr Luke referred to Mr Greensill as “Lex the supply chain finance guru” and said the FSB members would “benefit from connecting” with him.

My colleague Tom Rees has the full story here.

01:45 PM

Labour MP accuses Boris Johnson of 'being up to his eyeballs' over sleaze

A Labour MP has raised the Prime Minister's relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, accusing Boris Johnson of "being up to his eyeballs in the murky world of lobbying".

Sam Tarry had listed instances such as Robert Jenrick's involvement in the Westferry Development and David Cameron's lobbying for Greensill as he attacked Tory sleaze.

The MP for Ilford South said Mr Johnson's "former lover" had received "£26,000 of taxpayers money when he was Mayor of London", adding: "Unsurprisingly, that scandal was also whitewashed by this Government".

He accuses Tories of being "the Gordon Gekkos of the green benches who believe that green is good", adding: "It is time for that culture to stop."

01:38 PM

Ministerial disclosures not fast or clear enough, says PM's anti-corruption champion

The Prime Minister's anti-corruption champion has said ministers are not disclosing who they are meeting with "fast enough", or clearly enough,

Conservative John Penrose, who is married to Test and Trace boss Baroness Dido Harding, told his colleagues that it is "much too difficult at the moment to link up who ministers have met with, who the lobbyists are working for, with who is donating money to which political party."

He added: "All those three things should be immediately understandable, immediately searchable and immediately identifiable in order for the system to work well."

Mr Penrose said more officials - such as special advisers and civil servants - should be included in the disclosures.

Disclosing what lobbyists raised with ministers, why, and any conclusions reached would also "make a huge difference", Mr Penrose added.

01:32 PM

Review launched into compulsory Covid jabs for care homes staff

Matt Hancock has launched a review looking at making Covid vaccines compulsory for people working in England's care homes.

The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation on making Covid vaccination a condition of employment for care home staff.

The five-week consultation will seek views on the proposal, any potential impact it could have on staffing and safety, how it could be implemented and who could be exempt.

Staff, care providers, residents and their families and other stakeholders are being urged to take part.

A decision is expected to be made this summer.

01:28 PM

Lobby latest: No 10 defends 'distinguished legal expert' Nigel Boardman

Nigel Boardman is to spearhead the review into lobbying - Micha Theiner / eyevine
Nigel Boardman is to spearhead the review into lobbying - Micha Theiner / eyevine

Downing Street has defended Nigel Boardman, who Boris Johnson has tasked with leading a review into Greensill Capital, as being a "distinguished legal expert" after Labour called him a "very good friend of the Conservative Government".

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters: "I think anyone can see that Nigel Boardman is a distinguished legal expert.

"He was asked to lead this review independently, he has been asked to do it thoroughly and promptly and we trust him to do that."

Asked whether he was a "friend" of the Tory administration, the No 10 official replied: "He is an independent reviewer."

After Labour's fears of "whitewash" following Mr Boardman's earlier review into pandemic procurement was put to him, Mr Johnson's spokesman added: "We would encourage anyone not to prejudge what will be an independent and thorough inquiry into this issue."

01:25 PM

Lobby latest: Boris Johnson cuts India visit short over Covid wave fears

A new Covid wave is sweeping across India, with experts blaming massive religious events, packed political rallies and crowded public places. - AP
A new Covid wave is sweeping across India, with experts blaming massive religious events, packed political rallies and crowded public places. - AP

Boris Johnson will shorten his trip to India later this month due to the worsening coronavirus situation in the south Asian country, with Number 10 indicating it could be as short as a single day.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We've been in close contact with the Indian government about the PM's upcoming visit in the light of the Covid situation in India. As a result of these discussions, the Prime Minister has made the decision to reduce the length of the visit which is due to take place at the end of this month, so it will be a shorter programme in New Dehli.

"This programme will be focused on high-level discussions with the Indian government and Indian business leaders. We will set out more details in due course but the visit will include a bilateral meeting with prime minister Modi."

The spokesman said the exact length of the trip would be announced at a later date but that No 10 expected the "bulk of the PM's programme to take place on Monday 26th" April.

01:19 PM

Businesses and officials 'should understand one another pretty well', says former minister

Sir Oliver Letwin: Business and officials 'should understand one another pretty well' - Stefan Rousseau
Sir Oliver Letwin: Business and officials 'should understand one another pretty well' - Stefan Rousseau

A former Conservative minister has said it was important that the private and public sector "understand one another pretty well".

"I suspect there are millions of people in this country whose lives would be worse off if governments didn't have people working for them as civil servants, who understood a lot about business, and vice versa," Sir Oliver Letwin told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme.

"It matters that the two sides, private and public, should understand one another pretty well.

"I personally would regret it very much if the upshot of all of this is that civil servants are not able to be seconded, not able to go to business school, that we don't bring people in from industry.

"But of course, if you are going to be having that kind of interpenetration of the public and private sectors, you do have to have a very robust system for making sure that there isn't a conflict of interest."

01:16 PM

Labour engaged in 'cynical and desperate attempt to pre-judge inquiry', claims MP

One of the Chancellor's key allies in the Commons has hit out at Labour's "cynical and desperate" attempt to force a second inquiry.

Claire Coutinho, the Conservative MP for East Surrey and Rishi Sunak's former Spad, says Labour is not looking "to secure an independent legally minded expert in procurement to look into this matter".

Instead the party is engaged in a "rather cynical and desperate attempt to pre-judge an inquiry that is happening and also take this opportunity to make a party political attack

"They don't want to wait for facts here but will continue with rather a contemptible policy of smearing people in public life with scant regard for the truth or their reputation afterwards," she added.

Ms Coutinho, who was made a Treasury PPS last year, also highlighted similar attacks made against vaccines taskforce boss Kate Bingham "until it turns out she did an outstanding job securing vaccines for this country" and the race report.

01:10 PM

Senior Tory backs David Cameron as 'inspired leader and genuine man'

Huw Merriman, chair of the transport select committee, says that during the Duke of Edinburgh tributes the Commons was "at its very best" in paying tribute to a man who was non-partisan.

However MPs today "are clearly playing party politics", he adds.

The Conservative MP for Bexhill says there is "a very serious point behind this", but says the current select committee process means "we are in very safe hands".

He notes that select committees can "now group together" or move members from one to another, meaning that oversight and scrutiny can take place.

"To make a select committee more partisan with its sole aim, and poisonous, would actually diminish the role of select committees and the role of scrutiny, which of course I absolutely support having always been a backbencher."

Mr Merriman adds that David Cameron was "an inspired leader, a genuine man, someone who really wanted the very best for his country and for his party".

12:53 PM

Focus on David Cameron 'a red herring', says Tory MP

William Wragg cautioned against believing things that 'appear too neat'
William Wragg cautioned against believing things that 'appear too neat'

William Wragg has said the focus on David Cameron's behaviour within the Greensill scandal might be "somewhat of a red herring".

The PACAC chairman and Conservative MP said the former prime minister's behaviour was "no doubt tasteless, slapdash and an unbecoming issue for any former prime minister- but is the central issue?"

He noted that MPs were "all institutionalised and deskilled by public life", adding: "What possible qualitfied s former minister or senior official - food for thought."

He added that it was "odd that the leaked emails should be from the late Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] which cannot be contextualised or challenged by a man who is dead"

The MP added: "We must be mindful of scapegoating, especially when it appears too neat but neither should we allow conspiracy theories to abound unchallenged."

Colleagues must not "unquestioningly defend the integrity of others if they have doubts".

12:46 PM

Senior Tory offers to 'take up as AC-12 of Whitehall' to root out corruption

William Wragg, the chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, says he hopes that Labour's motion to create a new committee "is not a no confidence vote in me".

He said he has not spoken out during this week of mourning because "I did not think it seemly" - adding he does not think it was seemly of David Cameron to have released his statement on Sunday.

"Rest assured the committee is and will be giving these matters proper consideration," he adds, before raising Line of Duty as the Labour leader had done during PMQs.

"I am more than happy to take up as the AC-12 of Whitehall but fear the motion proposed today could be taken from the script of Sunday night's episode."

Mr Wragg highlights his session with Lord Pickles tomorrow and reveals plans to have the Cabinet Secretary in the next fortnight. "I would ask the House to be assured we will pursue every possible line of inquiry with our witnesses and will conduct ourselves without fear of favour," he adds.

12:39 PM

Minister attacks Labour for engaging in party politics during 'period of mourning'

A minister has said she is having "engage in politics... during a period of mourning" because of Labour's motion on a public inquiry over Greensill.

Chloe Smith said she would have to highlight the opposition party's stance towards lobbying - including the fact their manifesto set out plans to repeal the Lobbying Act - "though it is a shame to do so".

The constitution minister said the "official policy is to rip up these lobbying laws", and had opposed them at the time.

12:32 PM

Labour motion on Greensill inquiry 'duplicates existing work', says minister

Labour's motion "seeks to duplicate work" already taking place by the Government into lobbying, a minister has said.

Confirming that the Government would vote against the motion that would create an additional committee, she notes that it would "cost an additional quarter of a million pounds", but much of the work it would carry out was already underway.

That includes scrutiny of the "effectiveness of existing legislation", Chloe Smith told the Commons.

12:26 PM

Government 'concerned about what has emerged' over Greensill

Chloe Smith, the constitution minister, is responding from home as she is receiving treatment for cancer.

The Cabinet Office minister praises the work done throughout the pandemic, saying "civil servants across government, working under incredible pressure, have achieved extraordinary things".

But she echoes Boris Johnson's comments earlier saying "we are concerned about some of what has emerged in recent weeks".

However "most of what this complex motion proposes is already being done".

12:23 PM

MPs told they are at 'fork in the road' over sleaze

Rachel Reeves calls on Tory MPs to back her motion today
Rachel Reeves calls on Tory MPs to back her motion today

Rachel Reeves has said the committee charged with investigating Greensill and lobbying claims can be chaired by a Conservative backbencher as she looks to win support for her motion.

"We know how seriously colleagues around the House would take this," she told MPs, as she confirmed that she was willing to make such a "concession as long as there is cross party representation on the committee, as with other select committees."

She told MPs they were at a "fork int he road", with MPs able to vote to ensure "a proper investigation can take place, led by team confidence of this House, not someone handpicked from the board of one of the government departments embroiled in this scandal".

Voting against the motion will make MPs "part of the government attempt to cover up Tory sleaze", she said, adding the choice is to act for "your constituents and country or narrow party political interests".

12:17 PM

Foundations of government are being 'consciously removed', claims Labour MP

Rachel Reeves claims the foundations of government are being "consciously removed" by ministers.

The Labour frontbencher told MPs that "as well as the lack of an advisers on ministerial interests there has been an absence of ministerial interests being published".

These are supposed to be published twice yearly but have been published "only once last year in July and not at all since then".

She adds: "These things matter - they are about the foundations on which the standards of government rest and under this Government, those foundations are being consciously removed."

12:13 PM

Labour blasts Government for not 'advertising the job' of ministerial adviser

The Government has "not even advertised the job" of adviser on ministerial standards five months after the former incumbent quit, a senior Labour MP has said.

Sir Alexander Allan resigned after his report into allegations of bullying by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary was seemingly ignored.

Rachel Reeves told MPs: "This Goverment hasn't replaced him - they haven't even advertised the job. What does that say about how seriously this Government takes standards?"

But challenged by Sir Bernard Jenkin over the fact that the role "isn't advertised because it is a prime ministerial appointment", Ms Reeves held firm to her point.

"The point is we are five months later and nobody has been appointed to this role. Whether we advertise this role it has been vacant for five months... five months is an awful long time."

12:04 PM

Boardman review 'not remotely fit for purpose', says Labour MP

The inquiry ordered by Boris Johnson into Greensill Capital is "not remotely fit for purpose", a Labour frontbencher has said.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, told the Commons what was being proposed is "not an inquiry, it's not independent - it's an insult to us all".

The scope "must be bigger - it's got to be about lobbying too". If existing rules were not breached, "that is a big part of the problem", Ms Reeves adds.

She notes that Nigel Boardman has been paid more than £20,000 a year as a non-executive director of the Business Department. She claims he has "already whitewashed the Government's handling of public proc urement during the pandemic, and I fear he will do it again".

The former Beis committee chairperson also notes that Mr Boardman's law firm made £8m advising Carillion - including £1m on the day before the firm collapsed. "It leaves a terrible taste in my mouth and it should do in the members opposite."

11:48 AM

Have your say: Should there be a Parliament-led inquiry into Whitehall sleaze?

MPs will vote this afternoon on whether to create a Parliament-led committee charged with carrying out a probe into cronyism, sleaze and lobbying in the wake of the Greensill scandal.

Conservative MPs will abstain or vote against - as they tend to do with all opposition day debates - with backbenchers pointing to the existing inquiry announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.

Labour has claimed the Boardman review has "all the hallmarks of a Conservative cover up", noting that it would be held behind closed doors with no guarantee of action.

Their public inquiry instead would push those named in the Greensill row so far, including Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and former Prime Minister David Cameron, to come before Parliament.

But Mr Johnson hit back at Sir Keir Starmer for suggesting a system that would see "politicians marking their own homework" - taking the sting out of Labour's own argument.

So is this second inquiry needed - and should Tory MPs back it to prove their commitment to transparency? Have your say in the poll below.

11:34 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson hits back at Labour MP's Chancellor and Health Secretary claims

Matt Western, the Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington, says since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister "the sound of Big Ben's bongs has been replaced by the cash tills sounds of big donor bungs".

"Now we have a Chancellor and Health Secretary who sought to grease the wheels of involvement with Greensill and David Cameron - what does this say about the Prime Minister's leadership?"

But Mr Johnson says he is "simply wrong - particularly what he says about the Chancellor and Health Secretary, and I don't believe he should have spoken in those terms".

He reiterates the Government's work on lobbying comparing it to Labour's 2019 manifesto calling for the Lobbying Act to be scrapped.

11:29 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson does he 'not agree with everything' in race report

Kim Johnson, the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, challenges Boris Johnson over the recent race report, which she says "downplays the structural inequalities which still exist".

She asks if Downing Street "redrafted the report to change the narrative, and does he agree with me that this report should now be withdrawn?"

Mr Johnson says he does "not agree with everything" in the report, and he will be responding in due course.

"Nobody should be in any doubt about the realities of racism," he adds, stressing the Government's determination to "stamp it out".

11:25 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson 'I can't remember when I last spoke with Dave'

Ruth Cadbury, the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, asks when the Prime Minister "last spoke to former prime minister David Cameron".

Boris Johnson replies: "The honest truth is I cannot remember when I last spoke to Dave but if she wants to know if I have had any contact with him about any matters that have been in the press, the answer is 'no'."

11:19 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson blasts 'complete nonsense' from Ian Blackford

Boris Johnson said Ian Blackford was talking 'nonsense' - Reuters
Boris Johnson said Ian Blackford was talking 'nonsense' - Reuters

Ian Blackford says the Scottish Government has passed "landmark legislation embedding the rights of the child in Scots' Law".

He notes that "even the Scots Tories" have supported it and it has been "welcomed everywhere - except Westminster".

The SNP's Westminster leader says it now faces a legal challenge because the law "constrains Westminster powers" .

Bur Boris Johnson says this is "complete nonsense", adding: "This is nothing to do with the rights of children, which we all protect but it simply an attempt by the SNP to stir up constitutional chaos and create another fictitious bone of contention between them and the rest of the country."

11:15 AM

PMQs: Greensill is 'tip of the iceberg', says Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer says the Greensill scandal "is just the tip of the iceberg" noting that "this is the return of Tory sleaze".

The Labour leader says the more he listens to the Prime Minister, the more he thinks "Ted Hastings and AC-12 are needed to get to the bottom of this one" - a reference to the Line of Duty series that everyone in Westminster is currently obsessing over.

He urges "all members to come together" to back the Labour vote.

But Boris Johnson says there is an independent review and "we are getting on with rooting out bent coppers".

Is the Greensill scandal worthy of Ted Hastings? - Steffan Hill
Is the Greensill scandal worthy of Ted Hastings? - Steffan Hill

11:13 AM

PMQs: Labour inquiry is 'politicians marking their own homework', claims Boris Johnson

Sir Keir Starmer then asks how Greensill got the greenlight to access hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

Boris Johnson again doesn't answer the question, but turns the table, noting the shadow defence secretary lobbied on behalf of Greensill.

The Labour leader laughs, saying "if you think that is a good point, you've got problems".

He notes Nigel Boardman worked for "the same law firm that lobbied to loosen lobbying laws - you couldn't make it up".

He says the "whole broken system" needs to be overhauled. He asks the Prime Minister to "welcome" Labour's opposition day motion today and asks if he will vote with Labour today.

Mr Johnson says "he would have been better off supporting the Lobbying Act", which "toughens up our laws".

Labour's proposal is "to have yet again politicians marking their own homework".

11:10 AM

PMQs: Sir Keir Starmer rubbishes PM's 'shoplifter's defence' on lobbying

Sir Keir Starmer clashes with Boris Johnson during PMQs
Sir Keir Starmer clashes with Boris Johnson during PMQs

Sir Keir Starmer then asks if the PM is aware of an other official with links to Greensill while working in the Government.

Boris Johnson doesn't answer, instead saying if the Labour leader is aware he should raise it with Nigel Boardman.

He then tells Sir Keir to ask Lord Mandelson to disclose some of his clients.

But the Labour leader rubbishes this "shoplifters' defence", and says "that line just isn't going to wash with me".

11:08 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson defends Government action on lobbying

Sir Keir Starmer acknowledges that the inquiry has been launched but says it is not looking at lobbying "and I am not sure at very much at all".

The Labour leader attacks the "sleaze that is now at the heart of this Conservative Government".

He lists the Greensill revelations, and the ministers including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"Does the Prime Minister accept there is a revolving door - indeed an open door - between his Conservative Government and paid lobbyists?"

Boris Johnson says his Government has been "consistently tough" on lobbying, noting that Labour voted to repeal the Lobbying Act "because they thought it was unfair and restricting ability to make representation".

11:05 AM

PMQs: Lobbying boundaries not 'properly understood', says Boris Johnson

Sir Keir Starmer echoes the Prime Minister in his remarks, adding his own tribute to Ian Gibson who died this week.

Shirley Williams was "for many years Labour's loss - now she is Britain's loss"

The Labour leader then turns to Greensill scandal, asking Boris Johnson if he believes the lobbying rules are fit for purpose.

Mr Johnson says he shares concerns about "some of the stuff we are reading at the moment", as does the Cabinet Secretary.

In principle it is a good idea that top civil servants should be able to "engage" with business, but it is "not clear that those boundaries have been properly understood".

He highlights the Boardman review, which will report in June.

David Cameron-Greensill lobbying scandal explained
David Cameron-Greensill lobbying scandal explained

11:02 AM

PMQs: Boris Johnson pays tribute to three parliamentarians

Boris Johnson speaks during PMQs - Reuters
Boris Johnson speaks during PMQs - Reuters

Boris Johnson has started PMQs by paying tribute to "our dear friend and colleague" Dame Cheryl Gillam, who died over the Easter recess.

The Prime Minister also praised "pioneer" Shirley Williams and former colleague Peter Ainsworth, both of whom have also died in recent days.

11:00 AM

Covid cases 'persistently' being underestimated, warns expert

Covid-19 case numbers in Scotland are being underestimated by more than half, according to a leading expert in infectious disease.

Professor Mark Woolhouse said data from SPI-M, a sub group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), shows there is a "persistent problem in Scotland and indeed the whole of the UK with missing Covid-19 cases".

Prof Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said official figures show Scotland had around 2,000 cases per day in late December and early January.

But data from SPI-M and the Office for National Statistics shows the true figure to be 4,000-5,000 daily infections.

Prof Woolhouse said: "What those numbers imply is that we're consistently underestimating in Scotland the size of our epidemic terms of case numbers by roughly 50 or 60%. That's quite a large disparity, and it's a problem."

Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority
Map of UK's seven-day Covid-19 infection rate, by local authority

10:58 AM

President Putin has his second Covid jab

President Putin urged Russians to 'do the same and follow my example' - Pool Sputnik Kremlin/TASS News Agency
President Putin urged Russians to 'do the same and follow my example' - Pool Sputnik Kremlin/TASS News Agency

Russian President Vladimir Putin has received the second dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus and encouraged Russians to follow his example.

"I want to inform you that right now, before entering this room, I also received the second vaccination," he said during a televised meeting.

"I assume that you, taking care of yourself and your loved ones, will do the same and follow my example," he added.

The 68-year-old received his first dose on March 23 in private, declining to say which of Russia's three vaccines - Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona or CoviVac - he had received.

10:55 AM

Boris Johnson heads into Parliament for PMQs

Boris Johnson is on his way to PMQs, wearing both a black mask and black suit as part of the ongoing mourning for Prince Philip.

He will clash with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer from 12pm.

The Prime Minister heads into Parliament for PMQs - AFP
The Prime Minister heads into Parliament for PMQs - AFP

10:54 AM

High-risk workers now a priority for Covid jab rollout, say science advisers

Men, obese people, high-risk workers and ethnic minorities should be targeted in the next phase of the vaccine rollout, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said.

The group has told the NHS to proactively encourage take-up of the jab in these groups, due to their heightened risk from Covid.

Despite the increased danger, the committee confirmed it would not prioritise individual groups, but rather continue with an age-based rollout, with people aged 45 to 49 now being invited to come forward.

Read the full story here.

AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh the risk for most age groups
AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh the risk for most age groups

10:43 AM

UK to respond to EU's legal action by mid-May

The Government has agreed that it will respond to the EU's legal action over how it has introduced new trading rules for Northern Ireland by mid-May.

The EU launched legal action against Britain in March, after the UK unilaterally extended the grace periods around trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Brussels says they are in breach of the Brexit divorce deal agreed with London last year.

"In line with precedent that typically allows two months to respond to proceedings of this kind, we have agreed with the EU that we will respond to the Letter of Formal Notice by mid-May," the spokeswoman said.

"We've been clear that the measures we have taken are lawful and part of a progressive and good faith implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol."

10:33 AM

Winter Covid grant scheme extended to June

A coronavirus grant scheme providing help with food and bills for vulnerable households has been extended until June, with an extra £40 million available.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said the Covid Winter Grant Scheme would be renamed the Covid Local Support Grant and will now run until June 20, in line with England's road map which is expected to see lockdown restrictions finally lifted on June 21.

The scheme, which allows English councils to provide support to families and individuals, had originally been due to expire on March 31 but had already been extended to April 16.

Budget - The cost of covid
Budget - The cost of covid

10:24 AM

Lobbying rules 'don't work for those who don't want to comply', says former civil servant

Current rules and processes for those who lobby after leaving Government "just about work for those who want to comply" but it "doesn't work at all for those who don't", a former civil servant has said.

Alex Thomas, who is programme director at the think tank Institute for Government, told Sky News that following last night's revelations that senior official Bill Crothers held a second job with Greensill had prompted Acoba boss Lord Pickles to write "very pointed letters to the Cabinet office - but there is no bite on those rules".

He added that "tightening up the lobbying rules - this might be a moment to take action on".

"Where money is involved... where people are potentially personally benefitting, those rules do need to be tighter," he said, although noted this should be time-limited, saying there was "a half-life to contacts and knowledge of government".

10:18 AM

Some relationships 'difficult to defend', says former civil servant

A former civil servant has said some relationships between those in Government and business representatives is "difficult to defend" but stressed he does not believe there is "a deep web of sleaze at the heart of the British Government".

Alex Thomas, who is now a programme director at the Institute for Government, told Sky News there was "definitely a gap in the oversight and transparency arrangements" and that lobbying rules were "too narrow."

Acoba, the body charged with guarding "against revolving door" is "too weak", Mr Thomas added.

"It is pretty unusual for a civil servant to be at the same time employed by a private company," he said, noting that Bill Crothers and those involved in signing off the decision had "lots of questions to answer".

10:07 AM

Lord Pickles to get grilling from MPs over watchdog role

Lord (Eric) Pickles will appear before MPs from 9:30am tomorrow - Geoff Pugh 
Lord (Eric) Pickles will appear before MPs from 9:30am tomorrow - Geoff Pugh

With impeccable timing, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) has just sent out a reminder email noting that Lord Pickles will be appearing before MPs tomorrow morning.

Lord Pickles, the former communities secretary under David Cameron, is the chair of the Advisory Committee on the Business Appointment Rules (ACOBA) and will appear before William Wragg and others from 9:30am.

Yesterday it emerged that former senior civil servant Bill Crothers took a second job with Greensill Capital without informing ACOBA, prompting Lord Pickles to demand an explanation.

Mr Crothers said that since his role with the lender had been "agreed via the Cabinet Office internal conflicts of interest policy" while he was employed in Whitehall, he was advised the appointment did not require further vetting by Acoba when he left.

But Lord Pickles criticised the "lack of transparency" around the arrangements.

09:57 AM

Analysis: Enough with the Covid gloom – the worst is behind us

It is said that politicians, when they see the light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel, writes science editor Sarah Knapton.

Certainly, as Britain emerges, blinking, from the darkness of the Covid epidemic, the Government appears intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Yesterday, the Department of Health announced that the UK has now offered a vaccination to all the over-50s and vulnerable – the groups accounting for 99 per cent of virus deaths. Yet Boris Johnson went to great lengths to warn that the vaccine rollout has not achieved very much at all, insisting that "the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown".

Clearly this cannot be true.

Sarah Knapton crunches the numbers to explain why here.

09:49 AM

Have your say: Should there be a Parliament-led inquiry into Whitehall sleaze?

MPs are expected to vote this afternoon on whether to create a Parliament-led committee charged with carrying out a probe into cronyism, sleaze and lobbying in the wake of the Greensill scandal.

It seems highly likely that Conservative MPs will abstain or vote against - as they tend to do with all opposition day debates - with backbenchers pointing to the existing inquiry announced by Boris Johnson on Monday.

Labour has claimed the Boardman review has "all the hallmarks of a Conservative cover up", noting that it would be held behind closed doors with no guarantee of action.

Their public inquiry instead would push those named in the Greensill row so far, including Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and former Prime Minister David Cameron, to come before Parliament.

Is this second inquiry needed - and should Tory MPs back it to prove their commitment to transparency? Have your say in the poll below.

09:39 AM

Choppers Politics: Boris Johnson could be seen as ‘truly historic figure’ in 100 years' time

Boris Johnson could be seen as “a truly historic figure” in 100 years’ time according to the unofficial biographer of 10 Downing Street.

Sir Anthony Seldon, who has written biographies of Prime Ministers going back to Winston Churchill, told Chopper's Politics that while "the jury is out," history was beckoning the Prime Minister.

He added: "He could very easily be one of those figures who people still in 100 years talk about as a truly historic figure who made the weather. I mean, Boris Johnson is a weather maker.”

Sir Anthony, widely acknowledged to be a national authority on all matters to do with 10 Downing Street, warned that “anyone who writes off Boris Johnson is, I think, letting their prejudice take over".

Listen to the interview with Sir Anthony, as well as hearing from Tobias Ellwood MP, chairman of the Defence select committe, and Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, below.

Chopper's Politics podcast - Seldon, Ellwood, Nicholls
Chopper's Politics podcast - Seldon, Ellwood, Nicholls

09:23 AM

Ban former ministers from all lobbying for five years, says industry chief

Gordon Brown said former prime ministers 'must never be lobbying for commercial purposes', with a ban of at least five years - PA
Gordon Brown said former prime ministers 'must never be lobbying for commercial purposes', with a ban of at least five years - PA

The head of a communications trade body, which represents lobbyists, has said he backs Gordon Brown's call to ban former ministers from lobbying for at least five years.

Currently ministers are prevented from lobbying for two years after they leave government.

But Francis Ingham, the director general of the PRCA, told Sky News that the Lobbying Act should be "opened up" and expanded to include people who are directly employed by firms to lobby, rather than just external lobbyists as is the case currently.

It should also "stop ministers from becoming lobbyists", he said, telling Sky News: "We agree with Gordon Brown that there should be a five-year ban."

He added: "We actually think it should be broader than he said - so it applies not just to business. It should cover the whole of the lobbying industry, whether it's charities or trade unions."

09:15 AM

Official's second job at Greensill 'completely improper', says industry chief

The head of a communications trade body, which represents lobbyists, has said it is "absolutely astonishing" that one of the UK's most senior civil servants was working part-time for Greensill.

It emerged last night that Bill Crothers was head of Whitehall procurement, in control of a £15 billion annual purchasing budget, when he took on an external role as part-time adviser to the finance company's board in September 2015.

Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, told Sky News it was "completely contrary to our code of conduct".

"This is the whole point - the lobbying industry has higher standards than the Government," he added. "It is the Government's standards who are too low - it isn't the industry's.

He added: "The Cabinet Office has really serious questions to answer about how on earth they signed this off, who signed it off, who knew about it because it is absolutely astonishing.

He was "amazed that anyone in Government thought this was proper - it is clearly completely improper".

09:09 AM

Government 'restricting standards' on lobbying, claims trade body chief

The Government is "restricting standards" on lobbying and must catch up with what the industry wants, according to the director general of the communications trade body PRCA.

Francis Ingham told Sky News the Lobbying Act introduced by David Cameron was "really, really narrow", and must be "expanded to cover all lobbyists -that is what the industry wants".

The Government should also be "publishing ministerial diaries so people can see who met with ministers", he added.

"David Cameron introduced lobbying act, but he made it really really narrow in terms of who can sign up." said Mr Ingham. "It excludes the majority of lobbying industry. The irony is that industry wants to be on the register - it is the Government that is restrciting standards here.

"The Government is behind the curve here and needs to amend the Lobbying Act and take its responsibilities seriously."

09:04 AM

Julian Jessop: Was this the week the country finally accepted Brexit?

Sentiment towards Brexit has already taken a sharp turn for the better - Getty
Sentiment towards Brexit has already taken a sharp turn for the better - Getty

Brexit is not yet done and there are plenty of problems that still need fixing, especially in Northern Ireland. Nonetheless, public perceptions of Brexit have improved significantly, business concerns are fading, and now we have some hard evidence of a quick rebound in UK-EU trade too, writes Julian Jessop.

According to the latest Ipsos MORI poll, more Britons now think the decision to leave the EU has had a positive impact on the UK (39 per cent) than negative (38 per cent). Of course, this is well within the margin of error, but it reflects an eight-point increase in positive sentiment in just one month.

In addition, a new poll by JL Partners for Bloomberg suggests that if there were a referendum tomorrow, 56 per cent would vote to stay out of the EU and only 44 per cent to rejoin (excluding 'don’t knows' and 'won’t says').

This can largely be attributed to the mess that the EU is making of the response to Covid. Some will continue to argue that the UK could have developed, approved, and rolled out the vaccines more quickly even if still subject to the EU’s rules. But it is surely no coincidence that ‘Brexit Britain’ was the only country to go its own way.

Read the rest of Julian's column here.

08:55 AM

Labour calls on 'any Conservative who wants to stop cronyism' to back lobbying committee

Labour is expecting a vote on its opposition day motion to create a cross-party committee to investigate lobbying in the wake of the Greensill row at around 4pm - here are the details.

While they are appealing to "any Conservative who wants to stop cronyism rampant in their party and Government", the chatter so far is that most will abstain or vote against.

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08:35 AM

Could Britain be poised to withdraw troops from Afghanistan?

At its peak, the UK troop deployment in Afghanistan numbered nearly 10,000, - Getty
At its peak, the UK troop deployment in Afghanistan numbered nearly 10,000, - Getty

The UK appears to be preparing to follow the United States in pulling its troops out of Afghanistan by September.

President Joe Biden plans to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before this year's 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, finally ending America's longest war despite mounting fears of a Taliban victory, according to US officials.

The Times said that Britain would follow suit in withdrawing its roughly 750 troops, citing sources as saying "they would struggle without American support because of a reliance on US bases and infrastructure".

"We are working closely with the US, NATO allies and partners to support a secure and stable Afghanistan," a government spokesman told AFP.

"Any change to our security presence will be made in agreement with allies and after consultation with our partners."

08:17 AM

'No big panic' over Labour's vote on anti-sleaze committee

Labour is hoping to win over MPs from Tory benches to back their call for a Parliament-led inquiry into David Cameron, Greensill and the wider accusations of sleaze and cronyism that have dogged the Government throughout the pandemic.

But, as one senior backbencher says, there appears to be "no big panic" from Downing Street.

"I've not even heard from my whip on it," the MP says, noting that "they had got into the habit of just abstaining on opposition day motions".

But the former minister was critical of Number 10 for "engineering the whole row to be about Cameron - forgetting they'll all be sacked one day."

The MP added: "It's a really great way for Boris and his bunch of w*****s to **** over the reputation of anyone who went before - and also to stop them from ever getting any job anywhere."

08:03 AM

Lord Frost heads to Brussels to discuss post-Brexit trade tensions in Northern Ireland

Lord Frost will travel to Brussels on Thursday  - Reuters
Lord Frost will travel to Brussels on Thursday - Reuters

Brexit minister Lord Frost and the European Commission's Maros Sefcovic will hold talks in Brussels on Thursday as efforts continue to resolve issues around Northern Ireland.

The meeting was revealed by The Telegraph, and confirmed by the European Commission, which said the pair will "take stock of ongoing technical work" on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The minister and the commission vice-president will also "provide a political steer for both teams on outstanding issues".

Loyalists and unionists are vehemently opposed to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has created new economic barriers between the region and the rest of the UK.

The arrangements, agreed by the UK and EU as a way to keep the land border on the island of Ireland free-flowing, have been cited as one of the key causal factors behind the violence.

07:50 AM

Labour urges MPs to back sleaze probe to rebuild 'trust in democracy'

Labour has urged MPs across the House to back their vote to publicly investigate "lobbying, sleaze, cronyism and corruption" in the wake of Greensill.

Shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves told GMB it was "about access to minsters, not because of what you can bring to the table but because if whose telephone number you have got", adding "it is not the way Government should be done".

She added: "MPs have a chance today to vote to have a special select committee to take evidence in public, to be able to require and summon witnesses but also documents and get to the bottom of this.

"This is much wider than just about what David Cameron has done, this is about what is happening at the heart of Government today."

Ms Reeves said the scandal "undermines trust in our democracy", adding: "This really matters, we need answers and MPs have a chance to vote for a proper inquiry today."

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07:40 AM

If David Cameron didn't break the rules 'those rules must change' says Labour

David Cameron's activities fell outside the scope of the Act he devised because he was employed directly by Greensill - AFP
David Cameron's activities fell outside the scope of the Act he devised because he was employed directly by Greensill - AFP

David Cameron's excuse that he "didn't break the rules" suggests "those rules need to change", a senior Labour MP has said.

Shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "One of the things Labour is recommending, and the Government could do very easily, would be to tighten up the rules about lobbying that former ministers, prime ministers and civil servants can do."

She noted that the rules were stricter for those working for "one of the big lobbying companies" than a lobbyist employed in-house, adding: "That is why David Cameron is saying, 'I didn't break the rules'."

Ms Reeves said: "Now, if it is the case that Cameron didn't break the rules, then I think it says something about the rules and that those rules need to change so there is proper transparency so we can see what former ministers and prime ministers are doing."

07:30 AM

Labour's anti-sleaze vote 'political opportunism', says senior Tory

Tobias Ellwood has said MPs should 'slow down' and let the independent inquiry take place - PA
Tobias Ellwood has said MPs should 'slow down' and let the independent inquiry take place - PA

A former Conservative minister has said Labour's vote on an anti-sleaze committee was "political opportunism".

Tobias Ellwood told Times Radio: "What has happened is the former prime minister (David Cameron) has put up his hand and said I didn't act in the spirit of the rules, you then have No 10 that have come out with their own investigation.

"These things should be allowed to take their course. The idea suddenly that we all, with the limited knowledge that we have, can make a judgment on this - it is political opportunism," said the defence select committee chairman.

"Let's see what happens with the review, it is being done independently - that is the process that we should do these things, not just jump on this bandwagon and the day after a review has been called say, 'Right let's have a determination by having a vote in the House'.

"We simply cannot do that, we don't even have access to all the information, so let's slow down on this but let's get the right answer."

07:29 AM

'Careless' Bill Crothers wrong to suggest dual jobs 'not uncommon', say advisers

Government advisers are challenging Bill Crothers' assertion that it is "not uncommon" for civil servants to take second jobs.

The former senior official told Eric Pickles, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), that "this advisory role was not seen as contentious, and I believe not uncommon", suggesting other top mandarins had also taken on dual roles in the private sector.

But one adviser said he was "careless", adding: "dual jobs not that widespread".

Another added: "I was surprised they were allowed to do that. Any Spad [special adviser] with a brain would currently be asking their department if there are any current/recent ones".

07:15 AM

Vaccination programme saved 10,000 lives, says expert

The vaccination programme has played second fiddle to lockdown in bringing down Covid cases and saving lives, an expert has said.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician from the University of Cambridge, said Boris Johnson was right that the lockdown had played a "major" part in cutting cases, with the vaccination programme assisting.

"We've estimated that the vaccination programme has maybe saved 10,000 lives - a fantastic success," he said.

"But that is not what has brought the enormous reduction since earlier in the year - that is lockdown. But now it is keeping in that situation."

He told Radio 4's Today programme: "We only have to look over the Channel to mainland Europe to see this huge surge going throughout the continent - case rates are 10 times as high in Germany, 20 times as high in Sweden, death rates 10 times as high in France and Italy and going up."

How many people have been vaccinated in the UK?
How many people have been vaccinated in the UK?

07:08 AM

Roadmap could be "reversed" because of South African variant, says expert

The spread of coronavirus variants could see the roadmap "reversed", a scientist advising the Government said.

Professor Peter Openshaw said his fellow scientists were "very concerned" after a cluster of cases of the South African coronavirus variant were found in London, saying they could "put the reductions of lockdown into reverse".

He told Newsnight: "A lot of we scientists are very concerned about what's happening at the moment. "I think we're all just hoping that the staged reduction in lockdown is going to be ok. It is being done reasonably cautiously but I think this is not good news."

07:06 AM

Senior official who worked for Greensill had 'sensitive role', says former civil servant

The man embroiled in the latest chapter of the Greensill saga was "not just any civil servant", but had a particularly "sensitive role", a former official has said.

Jill Rutter, a senior research fellow at UK in a Changing Europe, told BBC Radio 4's Today: "Bill Crothers wasn't just any civil servant, he was the head of a thing called the Crown Commercial Service which oversees all that government buying activity.

"You'd have thought that if anyone was in a sensitive role, and anyone is looking for them to advise them, he is in a very difficult position to take a role with an external company and manage to avoid the conflicts of interest.

"What we haven't seen yet is the Cabinet Office's justification for saying it was OK but I have to say that among other former civil servants that I know, there was an awful lot of eyebrow raising going on last night."

Ms Rutter said Mr Crothers seemed to have exploited a "loophole" in the rules which were an "obvious place for tightening up" in that he did not need Cabinet Office approval to take a job with Greensill as he had already been doing work for them while in the Civil Service.

07:00 AM

Boris Johnson's Government 'doesn't think it has to abide by the rules', says former civil servant

Robert Jenrick was embroiled in a row last year about his involvement in the Westferry Development planning decisions - Reuters
Robert Jenrick was embroiled in a row last year about his involvement in the Westferry Development planning decisions - Reuters

Former civil servant Jill Rutter said there was a danger that Boris Johnson's Government appeared to think it did not have to "abide by the rules".

Asked whether the current administration was a "sleazy Government", she told the Today programme: "I think it is tracking up a record that might come back to haunt it.

"Last summer I was writing stuff about (Communities Secretary) Robert Jenrick - remember that thing with the Westferry development, the planning decisions and some of the other decisions he has made?

"I think this is a Government that doesn't think it has to abide by the rules and that gets you into a whole bunch of trouble.

"At the moment it doesn't seem to be paying a high price, but who knows?"

06:48 AM

Civil servant allowed to join Greensill while working in Whitehall

A senior civil servant was granted permission to join the lender Greensill Capital while still working at the highest levels of government, a watchdog has revealed.

Bill Crothers was head of Whitehall procurement, in control of a £15 billion annual purchasing budget, when he took on an external role as part-time adviser to the finance company's board in September 2015.

Boris Johnson was understood to be personally concerned about the disclosure on Tuesday night, while Labour described it as "extraordinary and shocking", renewing demands for an MP-led inquiry into the lobbying row engulfing Greensill and David Cameron.

The lender, which filed for insolvency last month, has been at the centre of controversy over the access its founder Lex Greensill was granted to numerous Whitehall departments during Mr Cameron's administration.

The former prime minister then went on to join Greensill in 2018, and has been revealed to have directly lobbied Rishi Sunak and a series of other ministers on the company's behalf.