Despite pledging a utopian reign defined by “integrity and accountability”, Rishi Sunak has been repeatedly buffeted by scandals since entering Downing Street. His appointment of Suella Braverman got his premiership off to a rocky start. Gavin Williamson subsequently resigned following numerous bullying allegations. Dominic Raab is soon to be investigated over his bullying complaints. The list goes on.
Adding to Sunak’s woes is Michelle Mone. Documents revealed yesterday that the Tory peer and her children secretly received £29m originating from the profits of a personal protective equipment (PPE) business that was awarded large government contracts after she recommended it to ministers. Her support helped the company, PPE Medpro, secure a place in the government’s ‘VIP lane’ after which the firm went on to be awarded public contracts worth more than £200m. Asked last year why she did not include her share of the profits in her House of Lords register, her lawyer said: “Baroness Mone did not declare any interest as she did not benefit financially and was not connected to PPE Medpro in any capacity.” OK, then. A Tory minister is currently on his feet responding to an urgent question from Angela Rayner on the due diligence and performance management on the public procurement of PPE during the pandemic.
In terms of substance, the personal behaviour of ministers and Tory peers feels like a bit of a distraction from the wider issues plaguing the country. With the rising cost of living continuing to bite, swathes of people are being forced into poverty and workers are going out on strike across sectors to defend their pay and terms and conditions. Even the nurses, who ministers clapped through the pandemic while consistently rejecting their pay requests, have voted to walk out. And none of this looks set to ease soon; as Ed Miliband said this morning, the announcement that the Ofgem price cap will rise to £4,279 from January is a “stark reminder that the energy bills crisis has not gone away”.
Elsewhere, Keir Starmer won the politician of the year award in the Spectator’s parliamentary awards last night – while also admitting that he does not expect to get its endorsement at the next general election. Following on from his speech earlier this week, in which the Labour leader emphasised the need to get Britain off its “immigration dependency”, his acceptance of the dubious honour from the notoriously right-wing magazine is further evidence of the break he is still trying to make from his predecessor and his efforts to woo conservative elements within the commentariat and country.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.