Sunday shows: Greensill scandal is “tip of the iceberg”, says Rachel Reeves

Sienna Rodgers

Andrew Marr Show

Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who leads on Tory cronyism for Labour, declared that “Tory sleaze is back” and the Greensill scandal is “the tip of the iceberg”. She defended Carwyn Jones from accusations of ignoring rules on jobs for ex-ministers and defended trade unions as “a force for good in this country”.

  • On the Greensill scandal: “Tory sleaze is back and it’s bigger than ever. We need real change to restore trust in our democracy and in the very essence of public service.” She said Labour wants a “proper inquiry, not chaired by one of Boris Johnson’s friends”.
  • She added: “Greensill is the tip of the iceberg. There’s £2bn of contracts that have gone to friends and donors of the Conservative Party. This whole growing feeling that there’s one rule for those at the top and another for everyone else that we need to root out of our politics.”
  • On Carwyn Jones, former Labour First Minister of Wales, taking a job with Liberty Steel’s parent company despite being told not to do so by lobbying watchdog ACOBA: “His role at Liberty was particularly around energy issues and steel issues, and had no connection to what was going on at Greensill.”
  • Asked why Jones “ignored” the rules: “That’s something for you to ask Carwyn Jones. I can’t answer that question. But we’re here today because of sleaze engulfing the government.” She highlighted that Jones “was not lobbying ministers”.
  • Pressed further on Labour rule breaches and stories from the New Labour era: “I don’t want any stone to go unturned in these investigations, but let’s be clear – standards have fallen so far in the last 11 years under this Conservative government.”
  • On whether trade unions should be on the lobbying register (after telling ITV they should be): “Already trade unions have to sign up to a tougher set of restrictions than commercial lobbyists. That is absolutely crazy.” She added that unions are “a force for good in this country”.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey predicted that his party would “make gains from Labour and the Conservatives” in May and reiterated his opposition to “Covid ID cards”, saying businesses “don’t want them”.

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary, reiterated Labour’s call for an open parliamentary inquiry into Greensill and said “Britain deserves an awful lot better” in light of the lobbying scandal. He defended general secretary David Evans from accusations of cronyism and said Boris Johnson should not be visiting India.

  • On the Greensill scandal: “Greensill did get access to the framework loan schemes and it’s not entirely clear how they got access to that. They were one of only two unregulated banks that were treated in that way. We don’t know whether that was as a result of the lobbying David Cameron was doing.”
  • He added: “We haven’t seen all the texts or the secret phone calls that went on between David Cameron and Rishi Sunak, and we really need to in order to be able to understand what’s going on.”
  • On what Labour wants: “What we’ve been calling for is an open parliamentary investigation into exactly what’s been going on.” He pointed out that Boris Johnson blocked an inquiry into Robert Jenrick.
  • Asked about general secretary David Evans’ company having won taxpayer contracts from Croydon Council: “I saw the Conservatives put this out. If that’s the best they can do to try to deflect from what they’re doing, that’s a pretty miserable attempt.” He said it was an “open and transparent” procurement process.
  • “The kind of behaviour we’ve been seeing from this government is not the behaviour you’d expect of an advanced Western democracy. It’s what you’d associate with a tinpot dictatorship, and Britain deserves an awful lot better than that.”
  • On the NHS being under pressure, he said the country needed to keep rolling out the vaccine, fix the test and trace system as lockdown lifts and “keep control of the borders” with a “comprehensive quarantine programme”.
  • On whether Boris Johnson should be going to India: “I think he shouldn’t be, no… I’d much rather the Prime Minister did it by Zoom.”
  • On the YouGov poll this week showing a 14-point Tory lead: “It’s just one poll. Let’s wait and see what happens in the elections.”

In a video about the West Midlands mayoral contest, Labour candidate Liam Byrne MP described Keir Starmer as “intelligent” and “straightforward” and agreed that he should “beat Andy Street easily”.

“It’s difficult when we don’t have polls,” Byrne said. “We’ve found doorknocking has gone really well and our numbers coming back look great. I think we’ll do well.”

Andy Street said: “I don’t think anyone’s going to win comfortably, I think it’s going to be a very, very close race… I’m actually quite surprised that he was confident because the feedback I get is that it’s really, really contested.”

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, said there is “nothing wrong” with ministers such as Matt Hancock having financial interests in companies if they have no role in procuring for the government from those firms.

The minister confirmed that the government-commissioned review into lobbying will not make policy recommendations and told Sky News that the current system is “actually a pretty good one”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP First Minister of Scotland, acknowledged that Scotland having more drug deaths per capita than any European country is not acceptable and not enough has been done.

She also criticised the UK government ‘traffic light’ approach to international travel as risky because we “we don’t know where the next dangerous variant will come from”.

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