Labour follows the money while Boris Johnson plugs holes in his sinking ship

© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
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Labour has called on the Tories to return political donations associated with Vladamir Putin and his regime. “We have to deal with the dirty money circulating in London. London is becoming the laundromat of the world,” David Lammy said. The Shadow Foreign Secretary highlighted that the government has still not acted on the Russia report, published almost two years ago, with no sign of the overseas territories bill or economic crime bill, or reform to the Computer Misuse Act or Companies House. Addressing the Sunday politics shows, Lammy warned: “It’s important that we stand up to Russian aggression abroad, and in central Europe, but it’s hugely important that we deal with Russian aggression in our own country.”

Instead of tackling corruption in politics, however, Boris Johnson is busy plugging holes in his sinking ship. Following a rash of resignations on Friday, the Prime Minister has appointed Guto Harri as his new communications director. The journalist has worked with Johnson previously, serving as his spokesman and chief of staff during his first term as London mayor. Labour has welcomed Harri to the job by demanding answers over his past work as a lobbyist on behalf of Huawei. The new communications director lobbied the government on behalf of the controversial Chinese tech firm while working for Hawthorn Advisers, a consultancy firm founded by the co-chair of the Conservative Party. “We can’t have the revolving door from lobbying to government see potential national security issues arise,” Angela Rayner said today. “We need full transparency from Guto Harri about all contact he had with government in his former role and who his clients were.”

Also controversially, the Prime Minister has picked Steve Barclay as his new chief of staff. Concerns have been voiced over whether he has time to do the job – Barclay is already the MP for North East Cambridgeshire, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister in charge of the Cabinet Office. Downing Street has insisted that the group of staff who left the operation last week and the latest hires are part of the promise made by the Prime Minister to change how his office works in the wake of the partygate scandal. But the appointment is less to do with the effective running of No 10, of course, and more about Johnson maintaining his grip on power. Barclay is well-liked by fellow Conservative MPs and the Prime Minister is hoping he can help soothe the mutinous elements of the Tory parliamentary party.

Sajid Javid has been warning today that the NHS backlog is going to get worse before it gets better. The Health Secretary blamed the Omicron variant for the delay in publishing a recovery plan for the NHS – despite reports the Treasury intervened to block its announcement today. Treasury sources have said this was an agreed delay with the NHS, but this is disputed by those working in the health service and the Department for Health and Social Care. The postponement rendered Javid’s defence of Johnson a little hollow this morning, to say the least, as the Health Secretary argued the Prime Minister is “delivering” for the country. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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