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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Gordon Brown Calls For Tougher Lobbying Laws After David Cameron Greensill Scandal

Gordon Brown said tough new lobby laws are needed amid the row over David Cameron and Greensill (Alamy)

3 min read

The former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for tough new lobbying laws saying the current rules “bring public service into disrepute”.

Brown who was PM for the three years prior to David Cameron taking office, was speaking as the row over Cameron's role working for collapsed financial firm Greensill Capital continued to escalate. 

He said ex-ministers should be banned for at least five years from lobbying for the private sector.

“I can't comment on the individual detail of this, but for me there are principles about public service – it cannot ever become a platform for private gain," Brown told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

"Ministers must never be lobbying, former ministers, prime ministers, must never be lobbying for commercial purposes.

“Current ministers should not be entertaining such lobbying.”

Brown added: "If we can't succeed in achieving this stopping by the sort of flexibility of the rules, we are going to have to pass laws to make sure that at least for say five years, no serving or former prime minister or minister, is ever lobbying for any commercial purpose within government.

"It simply brings public service into disrepute."

There are calls for Cameron to face MPs after Labour said “serious questions remain unanswered” over his actions despite the release of a lengthy statement last night where he accepted there are "important lessons to be learnt” from the situation.

Cameron was cleared by the lobbying watchdog last month because he was an employee of Greensill rather than a third-party lobbyist when he contacted a number of ministers about getting the company accepted for a coronavirus loan scheme.

He began working for the company in 2018, two years after leaving office, and has confirmed he was paid “partly in the form of a grant of shares”, which means he stood to gain financially from it being granted access to government pandemic funds and staying afloat.

The chair of the liaison committee in the Commons suggested this was unlikely. "This subject has been avoided for years and years," he told the BBC. 

“There are too many at top of politics and civil service who don't want this to happen because they are about to retire.”

He said Brown’s proposal was impractical and would be ineffective, instead saying the focus should be on "implied offers and insinuations" made to those in public office.

"You can't make laws stretch far into the future to bind people to previous employment, it just doesn't work,” he added.

Jenkin, who also sits on the committee on standards and the Public Accounts Committee, said he believed Cameron's behaviour was indicative of "a very casual way of running governments" that long preceded the Greensill scandal. 

"I don't think the public thinks that's acceptable," he added. 

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