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‘It won’t do a blind bit of good’: Boris Johnson rejects full inquiry into Greensill scandal

Sir Keir Starmer said the David Cameron lobbying scandal is just “the tip of the iceberg” and there was “sleaze” at the heart of government, as Boris Johnson rejected the Labour leader’s call for a parliamentary inquiry.

Sir Keir insisted an “overhaul of the whole broken system” was needed during a fiery PMQs encounter. Mr Johnson claimed “we’re having a proper independent review” – and said he “cannot remember” when he last spoke to Mr Cameron.

MPs are today set to vote on whether to establish a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry into Mr Cameron’s dealings with Greensill, giving a new select committee the power to summon witnesses.

It follows the shock development that one of Mr Cameron’s top civil servants, Bill Crothers, was given permission to work part-time at Greensill while still working for the government.

It comes as the EU parliament has once again refused to set a date to ratify the Brexit trade deal. Group leaders want reassurances from Mr Johnson’s government the deal is being implemented appropriately.

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Cameron was ‘fortune teller’, says Rachel Reeves

Labour’s Rachel Reeves has quoted David Cameron’s own 2010 warning that loopholes allowing shady lobbying practices was the “next big scandal to hit British politics”.

The shadow Cabinet Office minister said: “What he lacks in transparency, he makes up for in fortunate telling … The person exploiting loopholes would be the very same David Cameron.”

She called Cameron’s own recent statement “toe curling”, adding: “He’s not sorry for his conduct, for the texts and the drinks. But he is sorry he got caught. And he’s sorry his shares are now worthless.”

“This scandal isn’t just about the conduct of David Cameron … This is about who he lobbied in the current government and how they responded.”

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Labour MP Rachel Reeves in Commons

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Labour MP Rachel Reeves in Commons

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Labour MP Rachel Reeves in Commons

(Reuters TV)

Adam Forrest14 April 2021 13:02

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‘See you in court,’ says SNP chief

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called on Boris Johnson to explain “how protecting children’s rights in Scotland threatens the Tory government in London”.

It follows the UK government’s move to seek court review of two bills passed by the Scottish parliament, including one on the protection of children’s rights.

Responding, Johnson said: “This is complete nonsense, the government of the UK ratified the UN convention on the rights of the child 30 years ago. We all support it, it is nothing to do with the rights of vulnerable children which we all protect.”

Blackford called on Johnson to commit to withdrawing his legal challenge, adding: “If not we’ll see you in court.”

Adam Forrest14 April 2021 12:54

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Starmer says there is ‘sleaze at heart of government’

Starmer says ‘sleaze at heart of government’

Joe Middleton14 April 2021 12:30

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PM ‘can’t remember’ when he spoke to David Cameron

Boris Johnson was asked by Labour MP Ruth Cadbury when he last spoke to the former prime minister David Cameron.

He said: “The honest truth is…I cannot remember when I last spoke to Dave.”

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Boris Johnson at PMQs

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Boris Johnson at PMQs

(Reuters TV)

Adam Forrest14 April 2021 12:29

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PM rejects Starmer’s call for inquiry into lobbying

Mr Johnson said: “His own proposal is simply, yet again, to have politicians marking their own homework. It won’t do a blind bit of good.”

The Labour leader has said the situation is the return of “Tory sleaze.”

Joe Middleton14 April 2021 12:19

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Overhaul ‘broken system’ says Starmer

Boris Johnson retorts that he shares Keir Starmer’s concerns about “some of the stuff we are reading” around lobbying and confirms he has instructed Nigel Boardman to conduct an independent review and reporting in June.

Sir Keir said an “overhaul of the whole broken system” is needed and he pressed Boris Johnson to back Labour’s Commons motion for a parliamentary inquiry into the Greensill “scandal”.

Johnson replied in the Commons: “I think his own proposal is simply to have, yet again, politicians marking their own homework – a committee of MPs to look at it, it won’t do a blind bit of good … That’s why we’re having a proper independent review.”

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Keir Starmer at PMQs

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Keir Starmer at PMQs

(Parliament TV)

Adam Forrest14 April 2021 12:09

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PMQ’s kicks off…

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer both start PMQ’s today by paying tribute to Shirley Williams.

Sir Keir describes her as a “great parliamentarian” and that she loved anywhere she could debate “ideas and politics.”

The Labour leader then dives right into the issues of the day and asks: “Does the PM believe the current lobbying rules are fit for purpose?”

Joe Middleton14 April 2021 12:05

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Covid grant scheme for ‘most vulnerable’ extended

A coronavirus grant scheme providing help with food and bills for vulnerable households has been extended, with an extra £40million 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 finally lift lockdown restrictions on June 21.

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

Ms Coffey told MPs the move was in recognition that “some restrictions on the economy continue”.

The first extension added an additional £59.1million of support, and a further £40million has now been allocated.

Joe Middleton14 April 2021 11:46

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Lord Pickles set to appear in front of MPs tomorrow

Lord Pickles is set to appear at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) tomorrow and take questions as part of his job as chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Business Appointment Rules (ACOBA).

Yesterday he questioned why ACOBA had not received an application from Bill Crothers in relation to his part-time role with Greensill Capital.

He also criticised the “lack of transparency” around Mr Crothers employment with the firm, and urged the Cabinet Office to publish the conflicts of interest policy.

As HuffPost’s Paul Waugh pointed out on Twitter, it is set to be a fascinating session…

Joe Middleton14 April 2021 11:31

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Government plan for full university return in mid-May ‘makes no sense’, institutions say

Universities, unions and ministers are at loggerheads over when all students should resume face-to-face teaching, calling current plans a “major blow” and claiming they make “no sense” considering course timetables.

The Department for Education (DfE) expects students still off campus to be able to return to in-person teaching when the further easing of coronavirus restrictions over socialising is confirmed for no earlier than 17 May.

Zoe Tidman has all the details

Joe Middleton14 April 2021 11:12

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