Boris Johnson Sleaze crisis worsens under pressure on Covid deals | conservative

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The Tory sleaze dispute reached new heights on Saturday night as MPs demanded details of any lobbying by Owen Paterson from government ministers on behalf of a company that won nearly £ 500 million in Covid-19-related contracts last year.

The crisis Boris Johnson faced also worsened after former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major called his successor’s attempts to block the suspension of Paterson from Parliament last week for violating the rules of paid advocacy when ” shameful ”.

A new Opinium poll for the Observer shows that Johnson and his party’s audience ratings have plummeted dramatically since last weekend, with the Prime Minister’s personal approval ratings hitting the lowest ever.

With Tory MPs already worrying their party will regain its reputation for financial inappropriateness following the chaotic events with Paterson last week, all major opposition parties have stepped up the pressure.

Labor, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens put their focus on the award of pandemic contracts and called for investigations by Cabinet Secretary Simon Case or Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone into Paterson’s contacts with ministers during the pandemic.

Paterson, who announced his resignation as MP last week, was receiving more than £ 8,000 a month from Randox Laboratories for 16 hours of advisory work until he resigned on Friday. Randox received two nearly £ 480 million worth of Covid testing contracts last year without the normal competition. Government officials cited the urgency of the pandemic as a reason not to advertise the contracts.

The company insists that Paterson “played no part in securing a Randox contract,” but on Aug.

On Saturday Labor vice-chair Angela Rayner said she had written to Case requesting “the publication of all correspondence and details of all meetings between ministers and the companies who paid Mr. Paterson to lobby on their behalf.”

Angela Rayner: “It is particularly bold that Randox was awarded £ 347 million in taxpayers’ money.” Photo: British Parliament / Jessica Taylor / PA

The Observer was informed before Paterson stepped down as MP on Thursday. Conservative Whips understood that Stone was seriously considering opening an investigation into the former Northern Irish minister’s lobbying against ministers since the pandemic began. She is also believed to be considering investigating the controversy over the Prime Minister’s renovation of his Downing Street apartment.

In the coming days, the opposition parties are determined to increase the pressure. Rayner said, “It is particularly bold that Randox was awarded £ 347 million in taxpayers’ money after failing to perform a previous contract that resulted in the recall of 750,000 unsafe test kits and nursing homes with no regular testing. Ministers must outline how they will reclaim taxpayers’ money wasted on Duff-PSA and failed test contracts.

SNP leader Ian Blackford said he had also written to the cabinet secretary calling for “full transparency on Paterson’s lobbying work, particularly regarding Covid-19 contracts involving huge sums of money,” while Lib Dem’s chief whip, Wendy Chamberlain, “a Extensive and thorough investigation by the Standards Commissioner of the links between Paterson, Randox and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The Lib Dems secured a three-hour debate on the subject on Monday, which will focus on the award of Covid contracts.

The latest Opinium poll suggests the Sleaze ranks hit the Conservatives. The Tory lead fell from five points a week ago to just one point, while Johnson’s personal rating fell from -16 to -20 last week, breaking a previous low of -18 recorded a month ago Has.

Attitudes towards who would be the best prime minister have also changed significantly. Johnson’s 11-point advantage last week has shrunk to just two points. Johnson is seen as the best candidate by 28% of voters, five down, while Labor leader Keir Starmer is up 26% and four.

Sir John Major
Sir John Major: ‘The overwhelming majority government tends to treat Parliament with contempt.’ Photo: Dominic Lipinski / PA

On BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Major spoke about Johnson’s administration, the damage it was doing to Britain’s reputation and the way it was treating Parliament. Regarding efforts to prevent Paterson’s suspension, Major said, “I think the way the government has handled this has been shameful, wrong and unworthy of this or any government. It also had the effect of destroying Parliament’s reputation. “

He added, “There is a general hint of ‘We are the Masters now’ about their behavior. I fear that the overwhelming majority of the government tends to treat Parliament with contempt. And if this continues, it will end badly. “

Writing in the observer, Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy also targets the Business Secretary last week when he suggested Stone consider her position as she conducted her investigation into Paterson’s lobbying activities prior to February last year.

“Kwasi Kwarteng’s attempt to force Kathryn Stone out of her job was another ministerial code violation and the latest example of the Tories sliding into corruption and moral bankruptcy. Boris Johnson has already had several disputes with the standards officer. It is clear that he just wants revenge and impunity from the rule of law, ”he wrote.

“This level of blatant breaking up of norms and proud violation of the law requires more than just boos. That is why we need the Ministerial Interests Advisor to start an investigation into Mr Kwarteng’s threats. That is why Labor has asked the Standards Commissioner to open an investigation into the Prime Minister for funding the renovation of his Downing Street apartment. “


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