Ministers are making off with public money and taxpayers are paying the price, Labour has said. Following weeks of Tory sleaze allegations, the party has set out plans for an overhaul of the “broken” system that regulates ministers. Angela Rayner has announced that Labour would replace the current “alphabet soup of different committees and advisers” with an independent integrity and ethics commission. The body will have powers to ban ministers from lobbying, consultancy or paid work relating to their government jobs for at least five years after leaving office. Had this already been in place, it would have stopped the recent scandal sparked by ex-environment minister Owen Paterson lobbying on behalf of food companies and would have prevented former Prime Minister David Cameron from receiving £45m in share options from finance firm Greensill while leaning on officials and Conservative government colleagues for favourable treatment.
“Corruption – that is the word – is happening in plain sight,” the deputy Labour leader will say in a speech at 11am this morning. “People who are picking up the bill for this corrupt government are the taxpayers whose money ministers are wasting and abusing. If you break the rules there should be clear consequences. Our democracy cannot hinge on gentleman’s agreements – it needs independent and robust protection from Conservative corruption. Labour’s independent integrity and ethics commission will stamp out Conservative corruption and restore trust in public office.”
The programme for Covid booster jabs is expected to be expanded after news that the ‘Omicron’ variant is spreading in the UK. Omicron was first detected in South Africa but cases have been reported across the world. The UK reported its third case on Sunday night and six more cases have this morning been found in Scotland, where some of those identified have no travel history – meaning that they caught the virus in the community. The government has added ten countries in southern Africa to its red list and is introducing legislation on mandatory mask wearing and testing for international arrivals today. The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation is expected to advise the government today to administer boosters to younger people and recommend that ministers cut the current six-month wait between second jabs and booster doses.
Labour is supportive of the measures, but Lisa Nandy laid the blame for the spread of the new strain squarely at the feet of Boris Johnson this weekend. The Shadow Foreign Secretary told Sunday politics show viewers that he has failed to tackle new strains “at source” by not ensuring that vaccines are available to people across the world – despite promises the Prime Minister made at the G7 summit earlier this year. Gordon Brown this morning called on the G7 to “coordinate a month-by-month plan to get vaccines out to Africa and to get them testing equipment”.
Labour members from disadvantaged or under-represented groups are more likely to report negative experiences of local parties, LabourList can exclusively reveal today. According to a Fabian Society survey, women, minority ethnic members, disabled members, lesbian, gay and bisexual members and under-35s in the party are more likely to find other members unfriendly and unwelcoming; less likely to enjoy attending meetings; less likely to believe people are treated fairly in the local party; and less likely to believe that local members reflect and understand people living in the area in all their diversity. Read the full write-up here.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.