For £5,000 a day these Tories will get you access to key Brexit decision makers.
Former Tory cabinet ministers, and a sitting MP, have been uncovered ‘riding the Brexit gravy train’ – offering a Chinese company Brexit ‘intelligence’ for tens of thousands of pounds.
Tory peer and former health secretary Andrew Lansley was filmed saying he’d use his knowledge and connections in Westminster to gather “intelligence” for a company offering him tens of thousands of pounds.
Lord Lansley advised the company, invented for the purpose of the Times investigation, that the arrangement could be kept secret if they employed him through his wife’s company.
Lansley, who was previously accused of trying to stall a bill that would have tightened up lobbying rules in Parliament, said he charges €5,000 a day for his services.
Andrew Mitchell MP told the undercover journalists he charges £6,000 a day and, though he wouldn’t lobby the government for the firm, said he could “help people to see round corners”.
Mitchell told the supposed lobbying company: “I have the experience having been a senior government minister and knowing how the system works.”
Mitchell said he looked to work ten weeks a year for private clients despite being paid over £70,000 as an MP. “My constituents don’t mind what I’m paid”, he said.
The Times, who jointly uncovered the story with Channel 4’s Dispatches, said that it amounted to “a new cash for Brexit gravy train in Westminster”.
Former Conservative deputy leader Peter Lilley said he would approach government ministers on the company’s behalf and said he had access to two key backroom groups that advised on Brexit.
Lilley said he had “a very good relationship” with Liam Fox and David Davis. He said he was happy to have private chats on the company’s behalf with key people in government, but would not give away secrets or lobby.
Responding to the footage captured by The Times, former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, Sir Alistair Graham, said the politician’s conduct fell below required standards. He said:
“To take advantage of this difficult time and confusion to make extra money doesn’t demonstrate a great deal of concern for the public interest.”
With Brexit threatening to derail the economy putting countless jobs at risk, any whiff of politicians profiting from it is simply scandalous – will this be the next scandal to engulf the Tories?Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.