Under Boris Johnson’s UK Tory government, it’s one rule for them and another for everyone else.
The unfolding corruption scandal – with paid lobbying, dodgy Covid contracts and cash for peerages – underlines just how broken the Westminster system is.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson dodges scrutiny, refuses to apologise, and one UK Cabinet member said on live TV that it’s all merely a “storm in a teacup”.
Here’s all you need to know.
Owen Paterson lobbying scandal
Tory MP Owen Paterson has failed to declare his interest as a paid lobbyist for two private sector companies, for which he was paid £110,000 a year.
One of the companies, Randox, has been able to secure Covid-19 contracts worth roughly half a billion pounds, many awarded without tender and despite the company not having enough equipment.
Days after Owen Paterson’s employers, Randox, won a £133m testing contract, officials learned of a problem… they didn’t have enough equipment
No penalty: instead, per docs, No10 did “ring around” to get it loaned to them insteadhttps://t.co/kX7OJK1O0i
— Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) November 7, 2021
The independent Standards Committee found Owen Paterson broke parliamentary rules on lobbying, and proposed a punishment of 30 days’ suspension from the UK Parliament.
Instead of accepting it, Tory MPs – forced by the UK government under a three-line whip – voted to block an immediate suspension of Owen Paterson and to completely rip up the existing standards committee that found against Paterson.
🔎 Today, Tories voted against suspending one of their own MPs after the standards committee found an “egregious” breach of corruption rules.
🤦🏼♂️ They voted to rewrite the rules, because they didn’t suit them.
👎🏼 It’s one rule for them, and another for the rest of us. pic.twitter.com/Bp3oLKOs3s
— The SNP (@theSNP) November 3, 2021
After the SNP and Labour said they would boycott the proposed new standards committee – labelled a “kangaroo court”, the UK government performed a drastic U-turn and Owen Paterson had resigned as an MP.
Geoffrey Cox: MP missing in action earned over £800k in the Caribbean
Tory MP and ex-minister Geoffrey Cox has been voting in Parliament remotely from the Caribbean, making £100,000s in his second job, advising the government of the British Virgin Islands during a UK government corruption inquiry – essentially working to help stop exposure of corruption in the Caribbean tax haven.
🚨Geoffrey Cox has an undeclared stake in a tax avoidance scheme.
Our underfire former attorney general hasn’t declared that he’s part of a scheme that was investigated by tax officials
— Peter Geoghegan (@PeterKGeoghegan) November 10, 2021
So far, Cox has earned more than £800,000 from his second job at a law firm Withers, a company that boasts of helping multinational companies sue nations for introducing any measures that harm their profits.
Since he left government in February 2020, he has only spoken in one Commons debate and he was found to travel to the Caribbean during the national lockdown, while the “stay at home” order was still in place and non-essential international travel was banned.
Boris Johnson: running away from scrutiny
Boris Johnson failed to attend the emergency Commons debate on MPs’ standards and Tory corruption, and went on a chicken run to Northumberland to do a photo-op in an NHS hospital, where he wasn’t even wearing a mask.
It’s incomprehensible but Health Secretary Sajid Javid, responsible for the nations health, is now on @BBCBreakfast defending Boris Johnson not wearing a mask at all times during his visit to Hexham General Hospital
Is there no low his Ministers won’t stoop too to defend him pic.twitter.com/6W4ve9IZc7
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) November 10, 2021
Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the key backers of Owen Paterson, attended the debate but did not speak or answer questions, sending fellow minister Steve Barclay to do it instead.
House of Lords: a revolving door of Tory corruption
An investigation from the Sunday Times and openDemocracy exposed a fresh “cash for honours” scandal – with Tory donors and chums consistently getting rewarded for their donations with seats in the House of Lords.
The findings revealed that 15 out of 16 Tory party treasurers in the past seven years gave £3 million to the Tory party, and every single one of them was offered a peerage.
The Tory corruption scandal is out of control.
It’s clear the Tories have abused the honours system – handing peerages to their millionaire donors.
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) November 7, 2021
An ex-Tory party chairman was quoted saying: “The truth is the entire political establishment knows this happens and they do nothing about it… The most telling line is, once you pay your £3m, you get your peerage.”
SNP MP Pete Wishart has now formally reported it to the Metropolitan Police, urging a “cash for honours” investigation into the Tories.
Malcolm Offord: Tory donations for a peerage and ministerial post
Millionaire Tory donor Malcolm Offord, who has donated almost £150,000 to the Conservative Party, was given a life peerage by Boris Johnson in October 2021.
Mhairi Black said the decision to hand a peerage to Malcolm Offord – who donated £150,000 to the Conservative Party – must be revoked https://t.co/E5Kb1ZdkbD
— The Daily Record (@Daily_Record) November 10, 2021
Despite failing to get elected for the Scottish Tories in the Scottish election in May 2021, not only was he given a lifelong position of power and privilege – but also was appointed as a UK government minister in the Scotland Office.
Malcolm Offord’s peerage and appointment as a UK government minister is another shameful display of Tory cronyism and corruption – confirming again that Westminster is broken beyond repair.
Scottish Tories embroiled in latest ‘dark money’ donations
The party has also refused to rule out taking more donations from such businesses in the future.
Has this money been returned? If not, why not @Douglas4Moray?
The @ScotTories are at the grubby centre of the Tory corruption scandal – taking cash from businesses with ties to criminality, and associated with secretive groups bankrolled by dark money.https://t.co/htlw8yCtve
— Ian Blackford (@Ianblackford_MP) November 10, 2021
This follows reports of more “dark money” donations to an anti-independence campaign group which supported the Tories and other pro-Union parties during the election.
The donations have been designed to keep the identities of the donors secret, and may have breached electoral law.
Tory abuse of public Covid funds for political campaigning
In June 2021, High Court evidence revealed that Michael Gove used a £560,000 emergency Covid contract, publicly funded to tackle the pandemic and save lives, to undertake political research on “attitudes to the UK Union”.
🚨 Michael Gove misused emergency Covid contracts and public money for political campaigning on the Union at the height of this deadly pandemic.
— The SNP (@theSNP) June 28, 2021
The £560,000 contract has been granted to Public First – a company run by Gove’s long-term associates and former employees, James Frayne and Rachel Wolf.
Instead of saving lives, the Tories have been spending public cash on research on the Union – and yet they still refuse to publish any of the findings, supposedly not liking the result.