The elites “siphoned off billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars” during the Covid-19 pandemic, says Labor MP Ian Lavery.
He said the current dispute over lobbying by former Prime Minister David Cameron illustrated a larger problem of “cronyism” in government.
Mr Cameron appears to have used his government contacts to try and help a company called Greensill Capital, which he started working for in 2018.
The former prime minister texted Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s home phone several times and approached two junior treasury ministers, trying to convince them that Greensill should be allowed to borrow money from a government program called the Covid Corporate Financing Facility .
MPs held a debate in the House of Commons on the issue and a number of opposition MPs sharply criticized the government. One of the most outspoken was Mr Lavery, Labor MP for Wansbeck.
He said: “The Greensill scandal gives off a horrible stench, and Mr Cameron and everyone else involved must be held to account. It is just a drop in the ocean in what is a tidal wave. – a tide of cronyism and corruption among the upper echelons of this conservative government.
“It’s not just about ‘dodgy Dave’ … it’s about the cronyism cancer that has spread to the highest levels of the Conservative government.”
Mr Lavery said: “In the past year there has been a story of two pandemics in this country, one involving the elites, which have siphoned off billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and one involving the millions more who have been protecting or working as key frontline workers in the pandemic, all to protect the health of this country, or who have lost their jobs.
“How could these elites have had such a comfortable place at the table? Certainly not through hard work and sacrifice like the ones we’ve seen from these key workers. The fates of these elites were written as they walked the halls of their public schools and elite social clubs, making obscure connections that propelled them to comfortable lobbying jobs or even secure Conservative seats. “
A majority of MPs rejected Labor’s calls for a parliamentary inquiry into lobbying, in a vote held this afternoon.
Downing Street has appointed legal expert Nigel Boardman to lead a review. But Labor says Mr Boardman is not independent.
Besides Mr Cameron’s efforts to secure funding for Greensill’s coronavirus bailout, the case has raised questions about a ‘revolving door’ between Whitehall and the private sector.
Senior official Bill Crothers started working for Greensill as a part-time board adviser in September 2015 and did not step down as government commercial director until November of this year.
When asked by the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said he shared ‘the widespread concern about some of the things we are reading at the moment’, and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case also had concerns.
“I think it’s a good idea in principle that senior officials should be able to engage with business and have private sector experience,” Mr Johnson said.
“When I look at the accounts I read to date, it is not clear that these limits have been fully understood and I have asked for a proper independent review of the arrangements we need to make by Nigel Boardman, and he will. will report in June. “