Rishi Sunak told to 'explain himself' in Parliament over Cameron lobbying texts

12 April 2021, 18:09 | Updated: 12 April 2021, 22:05

Rishi Sunak has been told to explain his role in the David Cameron lobbying row
Rishi Sunak has been told to explain his role in the David Cameron lobbying row. Picture: PA/Matt Crossick/Empics

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak has been told to "explain himself" in Parliament as the row over David Cameron's lobbying intensifies.

Boris Johnson has ordered an inquiry after it emerged the former Prime Minister had privately lobbied ministers, including the Chancellor, to access a coronavirus loan scheme for his employer, Lex Greensill.

Mr Cameron was cleared of wrongdoing by an official watchdog.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, called for Mr Sunak to present himself to the House of Commons after the Treasury released text messages showing the Chancellor had "pushed" officials to find a way to support the now-collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital.

Ms Dodds said: "The Chancellor can't keep ducking scrutiny of his decision to put hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money in the hands of an unregulated lending firm with links to a former Conservative PM. That's why we have asked him to come to Parliament to explain himself.

"We need to know what he "pushed" his officials to do to help Greensill access one of his Covid loan schemes.

"And we need to know why he then simply opened the door for them to lend through another one."

Mr Cameron sent a number of texts to Mr Sunak's private phone to request support for Greensill, the collapse of which has put the 5,000-employee firm facing an uncertain future.

Read more: Gordon Brown says ex-PMs should be banned from lobbying for 5 years

Read more: James O'Brien reacts to claims Cameron is in 'wealth trap', as Greensill investigation launches

David Cameron was cleared of wrongdoing by an official watchdog
David Cameron was cleared of wrongdoing by an official watchdog. Picture: PA

Allegations also surfaced that Mr Greensill, an Australian financier, was given privileged access to Whitehall departments when Mr Cameron was in No 10.

Breaking his silence on Sunday, Mr Cameron said he did not break any codes of conduct or lobbying rules when he made representations to the Government.

However, he acknowledged he should have gone through "only the most formal of channels".

He insisted many allegations are "not correct", including the suggestion Mr Greensill was a key member of his team while he served as Prime Minister.

Mr Sunak would reportedly be able to send a Treasury minister to the Commons and would not have to attend Labour's request.

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has told Mr Sunak to "explain himself" in Parliament
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has told Mr Sunak to "explain himself" in Parliament. Picture: PA

LBC News has contacted Mr Sunak's office for comment.

A Treasury spokesperson said: "The Chancellor and the Treasury had no involvement in Greensill's application to lend under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme which is run as an independent process.

"Greensill's representations to HMT were concerning a separate scheme and were turned down."

In a letter Mr Sunak sent to Ms Dodds previously, he said: "I can confirm that David Cameron reached out informally by telephone to me, and to the Economic Secretary and the Financial Secretary, on the matter of Greensill Capital's access to the CCFF (Covid Corporate Finance Facility).

"The matter was referred to the relevant officials and, following appropriate consultations as outlined in the previous requests, the request was turned down.

"During this process, this was communicated to Greensill Capital by officials and, in parallel, by me to David Cameron."