The Greensill affair is just the latest in a series of scandals from the Conservative Government marked by dodgy contracts, privileged access, and jobs for their friends.
What we’re seeing is the return of Tory sleaze – and it’s taxpayers’ pockets that are taking the hit.
After Chancellor Rishi Sunak released text messages he had sent to former Prime Minister David Cameron, Cameron’s attempt to push the Treasury to allow his friend’s firm Greensill Capital access to government-backed loans was exposed.
Over the last year, I’ve regularly spoken to small businesses and workers right across our area who have been hard hit by the pandemic. Many of them can’t access the Government’s income support and recovery schemes at all.
Self-employed people who have not been able to work because of the pandemic have struggled to get support because of complex requirements set out by the government that leave many out.
Whilst the Chancellor would not budge for those excluded from government support schemes, his texts to David Cameron reveal that he was more than happy to “push” his team to rewrite the rules to help Cameron’s firm Greensill.
And while Greensill didn’t end up getting money from that scheme, they did end up with public money from a different scheme the Government introduced to support larger firms.
Within months, Greensill collapsed, putting thousands of jobs in the UK steel industry, partly financed by Greensill, at risk.
The Chancellor is running scared of scrutiny over the Greensill affair, but the public deserve answers.
He should explain his role in the scandal before Parliament. Hundreds of millions of pounds of public money are in question.
The Conservatives are hoping they can bluster their way through yet another scandal, and until last week they were blocking investigations at every turn.
But these allegations are serious: the Chancellor’s actions potentially put hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer cash at risk.
People have made huge sacrifices over the course of the pandemic. Large amounts of money have rightly been spent to support workers and sustain businesses.
But we know that millions of people weren’t able to get financial support from the government. Many small businesses in Sunderland have struggled to stay afloat. They couldn’t text the Chancellor for help.
It’s clear that for all Boris Johnson’s rhetoric, we face the same old Tories, and the same old sleaze. One rule for them, and one for the rest of us.