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Tory MPs Block Labour Push For Parliamentary Inquiry Into David Cameron And Lobbying

Tory MPs Block Labour Push For Parliamentary Inquiry Into David Cameron And Lobbying

Tory MPs blocked the push by Labour to hold a Parliamentary inquiry into David Cameron, Greensill and the rules on lobbying (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour’s push for a parliamentary inquiry into David Cameron, Greensill and the wider rules around lobbying has been blocked by the Conservatives.

The vote on creating a new select committee was defeated by 262 votes to 357, after Tory MPs were whipped against the opposition day motion.

It came after Labour accused Cameron of trying to avoid scrutiny of his lobbying for Greensill by releasing his statement during the “period of national grief” after the death of Prince Philip.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said the former Prime Minister’s behaviour was “cynical and shabby” after he broke his almost month-long silence on the growing scandal with lengthy comments to the Press Association on Sunday night, two days after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

She was speaking at the start of an opposition day debate in which Labour are putting to a vote their plans for a full parliamentary investigation into lobbying, after criticising the government’s own review as an attempt at “marking their own homework”.

Reeves told the Commons: "Having refused to respond to any questions at all for 40 days, David Cameron chose a period of national grief, hoping there would be less political criticism and less scrutiny. It is cynical and it is shabby."

She described the former-PM's statement as "toe-curling" and accused him of a lack of remorse.  

"He's not sorry for his conduct, for the texts and the drinks, but he is sorry he got caught, and he's sorry that his shares are now worthless,” she continued. 

The senior Conservative MP William Wragg also criticised the timing of Cameron's statement.

“In a week of national mourning, and even on the day of tributes to his late Royal Highness, I did not think it seemly to be prattling about television studios and nor for that matter did I think it was at all seemly for Mr Cameron's statement to be released at that time as well,” he said. 

Wragg, who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, also urged colleagues not to "unquestioningly defend the integrity of others if they have doubts".

"I wonder if the attention given to the former prime minister Mr Cameron is somewhat of a red herring,” he added.“It is no doubt a tasteless, slapdash and unbecoming episode for any former prime minister, but is it the central issue?

"After all, what is the key attribute of a former minister, or senior official? Surely we are all institutionalised and deskilled by public life? What possibly qualifies a former minister or senior official?"

Criticising the independent review established by Johnson as "wholly inadequate”, Reeves said it was a “fact” that the man leading it – the lawyer Nigel Boardman – is a “very good friend of the Conservative government”.

She said he has been paid more than £20,000 a year as a non-executive director at the department for business, accusing him of already having “whitewashed the Government's handling of public procurement during the pandemic”.Reeves said she believed “he will do the same again with this inquiry” and described the proposed inquiry as "not remotely fit for purpose".

“It's not an inquiry, it's not independent, it's an insult to us all," she added. 

She urged Conservative MPs to defy the whip and back Labour’s motion, saying if they didn't, they would be complicit in the "government's attempt to cover up Tory sleaze".

But Minister for the Cabinet Office, Chloe Smith, said the motion “seeks to duplicate the work that is already in the gift of Parliament and its committees” and work “that is already being undertaken by the Government”.

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