Labour has called for a parliamentary investigation into the David Cameron lobbying scandal over Greensill, telling MPs the former prime minister is “only sorry he got caught”.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel 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.”
Reeves also described Cameron’s statement as “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 that his shares are now worthless.”
Reeves said questions also need to be asked of current ministers, noting: “When it comes to lobbying, it takes two to tango. For every former minister lobbying, there is someone in power being lobbied.”
She criticised the “wholly inadequate” review established by Boris Johnson, which will be led by Nigel Boardman.
Reeves told MPs: “It’s a fact that Nigel Boardman is a very good friend of the Conservative Government. Some may suspect the son of a former Conservative cabinet minister might be unlikely to make waves – but let’s look at his own record.
“Mr Boardman has been paid over £20,000 per year as a non-executive director at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – a department with a real interest in the British Business Bank which lent to Greensill and the British steel industry, where so many jobs are at risk.
“Mr Boardman has already whitewashed the government’s handling of public procurement during the pandemic, and I fear he will do the same again with this inquiry.”
She added “Mr Boardman’s law firm made £8 million advising Carillion”, also telling MPs: “To cap it all off, Mr Boardman was appointed to a prestigious role at the British Museum by David Cameron.
“What is being proposed by the government is not remotely fit for purpose. It’s not an inquiry, it’s not independent, it’s an insult to us all.”
On Labour’s motion, the shadow minister said: “If they vote against it as the prime minister has told you all to do, then I am sorry to say that they too will be part of the government’s attempt to cover up Tory sleaze.
“All members here today should reflect on who they are here to serve, their constituents and their country or narrow party political interests.”
She added: “Some have asked this week, quite powerfully, when did we stop caring about honesty and integrity? Vote for a proper investigation to close the loopholes, to rein in the lobbyists and to lift standards in this great democracy in which we all have the privilege to serve.”
Defending the government, Chloe Smith, minister for the Cabinet Office said: “We are concerned (that) some of what has emerged in recent weeks, most of what this complex motion proposes, is already being done.”
She went on: “We are opposing the motion today because it 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.”