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Starmer says ‘sleaze at heart of government’

MPs have today confirmed a second full inquiry into the Greensill lobbying scandal as the government faces further questions over the ‘revolving door’ with business.

The fresh inquiry will be held by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Tory chairman William Wragg said this morning.

It follows the Treasury Select Committee announcing an inquiry into lobbying yesterday, which is in addition to a separate probe that has been launched by Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, David Cameron says he will “respond positively” to any request to give evidence to MPs about his lobbying on behalf of Greensill Capital.

Furious Tory MPs yesterday branded the former prime minister’s actions “tasteless” after he was found to have sent text messages and emails to ministers in an effort to exert influence within government on behalf of the since-collapsed financial services company.

Labour had pushed for a full parliamentary inquiry into allegations of lobbying, but MPs rejected the plan yesterday in the House of Commons.

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Britons in their 30s set to receive Covid vaccine from second half of May

Meanwhile, away from Westminster, there is further good news on the vaccine rollout as people in their 30s could soon be getting jabbed from mid-May.

In England, people aged 45 to 49 have been invited to book their coronavirus vaccine appointment, with all adults to be offered the jab in decreasing age order before the end of July.

Based on current vaccination rates, those aged 35 to 39 could start getting vaccinated before the end of May.

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 09:57

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Another MPs inquiry into lobbying has been launched…

A further inquiry into the Greensill scandal will be undertaken by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Tory chair William Wragg has confirmed this morning.

It follows yesterday’s announcement that the Treasury Select Committee said it will investigate the response of ministers when dealing with contact from Mr Cameron.

Mr Wragg blasted the former PM in the House of Commons yesterday, calling his behaviour “tasteless, slapdash and unbecoming.”

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 09:43

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David Cameron indicates he could give evidence to MPs’ inquiry into Greensill lobbying

David Cameron has said he will ‘respond positively’ if he is asked to answer questions from MP about Greensill Capital.

Mr Cameron, who joined Greensill Capital in a paid role as special adviser in 2018, two years after leaving No 10, was found to have sent text messages and emails to ministers, including the chancellor Rishi Sunak, in an effort to exert influence within government.

The Independent’s political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has the details

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 09:27

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David Cameron’s reputation ‘damaged’ by Greensill scandal, says former attorney general

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve appeared on Good Morning Britain this morning to discuss the fall-out from revelations David Cameron sent emails and text messages to try and influence government ministers.

Mr Grieve said: “On the face of it it doesn’t appear to me David Cameron has broken any rules at all but his reputation has been damaged because he has been seen to be associated with a company that also seems to have very close links to government, which have been rather unusual.”

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 09:03

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Government ‘told vaccine passports could be unlawful by rights watchdog’

The government has reportedly been warned by its own equalities watchdog that “vaccine passports” could be discriminatory.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is understood to have told the Cabinet Office that any sort of requirement to produce vaccine documents to enter a public place such as a bar, would create a “two-tier society” in the UK.

Vincent Wood has all the details

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 08:48

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Former Home Office permanent secretary ‘amazed’ by Crothers situation

Sir David Normington said that he was “absolutely amazed” that a top civil servant was allowed to work as a part-time adviser at Greensill Capital while still in Whitehall.

Asked about the Bill Crothers case, Sir David told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well actually, when I heard it, I thought it was absolutely baffling. I’ve never come across anything like it in my over 40 years in Whitehall.

“I know (Cabinet Secretary) Simon Case is checking whether there are any other similar cases – I would be very surprised if there were.

“I’m absolutely amazed that Bill Crothers should be allowed to work for Greensill while he was still in the civil service.

“But worse, I think, this enabled him to evade scrutiny of his appointment after he had left the civil service, and that is completely unacceptable.”

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 08:32

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Alex Salmond ‘does not know’ if Russia was behind Salisbury nerve agent attack

Alex Salmond has refused to say whether he believes Russia was behind the 2018 Salisbury Novichok poisonings that killed one woman and left her partner critically ill.

Scotland’s former first minister, who has presented a programme on Russian state-sponsored TV channel RT since 2017, said he simply did not know who was responsible for the never agent attacks during an interview on LBC.

Sam Hancock has the details

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 08:22

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Brexit minister set for crunch talks with Brussels on NI protocol

Britain and the EU are mounting a fresh attempt to resolve the problems over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

Brexit minister Lord Frost is travelling to Brussels for talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic today as they attempt to iron out differences over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It has been blamed as one of the factors behind the recent upsurge of violence in loyalist areas amid concerns in those communities it has weakened their place in the United Kingdom.

Under the terms of the Protocol, goods moving from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland may be subject to checks.

However, critics have warned that the way it has been implemented has given rise to renewed sectarian tensions, at the same time as hampering the free flow of goods within the UK.

Ahead of Thursday evening’s meeting between Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic, an EU spokesman said they would “take stock of ongoing technical work” on the protocol.

A UK Government spokesman said there were still “significant differences” which needed to be resolved if they were to rebuild confidence in the agreement among communities in Northern Ireland.

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 08:12

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Boris Johnson ‘intervened in Saudi bid to buy Newcastle United’

Boris Johnson reportedly intervened after a Saudi bid to buy Newcastle United ran into difficulties.

The Prime Minister asked one of his top aides to investigate after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned a row over the sale of the Premier League club could damage relations between the two countries, according to the Daily Mail.

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 08:06

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Good morning

Hello and welcome to The Independent’s minute-by-minute live blog, bringing you the latest news and analysis straight from Westminster.

Joe Middleton15 April 2021 08:03

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