I’m waiting for Theresa May to turn up and say, “Now, boys, play nicely!” Not that she’d have any effect at all.
It seems that Boris Johnson thought details of his text conversation promising tax breaks to James Dyson had been leaked by Dominic Cummings.
Denying this, Cummings has nevertheless come out with a different claim – that Johnson had planned a “possibly illegal” way to get Tory donors to pay for renovations to the Downing Street flat that the prime minister uses.
We knew that, didn’t we?
Cummings wrote in his blog: “The PM stopped speaking to me about this matter in 2020 as I told him I thought his plans to have donors secretly pay for the renovation were unethical, foolish, possibly illegal and almost certainly broke the rules on proper disclosure of political donations if conducted in the way he intended. I refused to help him organise these payments.”
For good measure, Cummings has also denied leaking details of the UK’s second Covid-19 lockdown last summer – but he put an extra sting into this one.
He said Johnson had considered stopping an inquiry into that leak (that eventually exonerated Cummings) because (he reckoned) the evidence pointed to Henry Newman, a close personal friend of the prime minister’s fiancee, Carrie Symonds.
Cummings claimed Johnson was concerned that he would have to sack Newman, and this would cause friction with Symonds.
The official line from Downing Street is that Johnson has never interfered with any inquiries – but that’s not what Cummings claimed.
The claim was that Johnson had considered interfering – and this is entirely plausible after Johnson admitted promising to interfere with the tax system for Dyson, at Prime Minister’s Question on Wednesday. (Or did he? Will we have yet another clarification from “a Downing Street source” that he meant something completely – and implausibly – different?)
The result of the inquiry has never been published.
Cummings wrote: “I told him that this was ‘mad’ and totally unethical, that he had ordered the inquiry himself and authorised the Cabinet Secretary to use more invasive methods than are usually applied to leak inquiries because of the seriousness of the leak. I told him that he could not possibly cancel an inquiry about a leak that affected millions of people, just because it might implicate his girlfriend’s friends.”
He added: “It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves.”
Asked to comment on the matter, Johnson himself came out with what may be his only accurate words on any of the corruption allegations that are currently pelting his government. He said:
“I think people aren’t so much interested in who is leaking what to whom as the substance of the issue at hand.”
We want to see accurate, verified evidence showing whether Johnson intervened with HMRC to change tax rules of Dyson.
We want to see evidence showing whether Johnson was implicated in the Greensill lobbying scandal.
We want evidence on how Johnson funded his flat renovations.
We want to know why the inquiry into the lockdown leak wasn’t published.
And we want to see evidence on the accuracy of all the other corruption claims that have come out of the woodwork – and that are likely to emerge in the future.
And no – “a Downing Street spokesperson denied the allegations” will not be acceptable.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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