Parliament standards tsar told to investigate ‘cozy texts’ between PM and Tory donor

Took

Ebor has called for an investigation into “whether rich people can pay to gain access to government ministers” after a “cozy text message” between Boris Johnson and a Tory donor was released.

WhatsApp messages released on Thursday showed Boris Johnson discussing the proposed “Great Exhibition 2.0” with Lord Brownlow, as well as requesting his help with the £112,000 renovation of his official residence in Downing Street.

Negotiations led to a meeting between a Conservative colleague and the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, but the idea did not proceed as envisioned by Lord Brownlow.

What we are seeing here is potentially a case of cash for access where Lord Brownlow was granted access to ministers to try and influence taxpayers’ money spending decisions.

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reid said Labor has asked Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Catherine Stone to investigate the exchange, arguing that there are questions about possible “access to cash” for the prime minister to answer.

Mr Reid said the text messages “make huge sense”, arguing that they show Lord Brownlow “access to the prime minister as he was paying for flat renovations in Downing Street”.

“If so, that is corruption,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And what we’re seeing here is potentially a case of cash for access, where Lord Brownlow was given access to ministers to try and influence decisions on how to spend taxpayers’ money – that’s why That it is very important.

“Those very sweet text messages show that the Prime Minister and Lord Brownlow had a common supporter in operation, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”

Asked why the messages are problematic for furthering the Great Exhibition, Mr Reid replied: “The issue is not what happened, it is whether rich people are trying to gain access to government ministers and influence them. How they decide to spend the taxpayers money.”

But trade minister Paul Scully said Mr Johnson was engaged in “proper communication” with Lord Brownlow – who was supposed to head a charitable trust to handle the upkeep of the No. 11 flat – and “nothing untoward”. Hui.

In a WhatsApp message sent on 29 November 2020, Conservative Party leader Mr Johnson asked Lord Brownlow if he would give his approval for interior designer Lulu Little to begin work.

He added: “Ps am on the great exhibition plan will be reverted.”

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reid (Aaron Chown/PA) , PA Archive

The coworker said he would add the flat “ASAP”: “Thanks for thinking of GE2”.

On 18 January 2021, Lord Brownlow attended a meeting to discuss the Pearce Great Exhibition 2.0 proposal with Mr Dowden and Albert Hall representatives.

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