Three former Tory cabinet ministers deny wrongdoing in selling Brexit advice to private firms
‘Giving some special help to one company when that information is not generally available… is just not acceptable’
Three former Conservative Cabinet ministers have denied it is wrong to receive money in exchange for advising private companies about the Government’s approach to Brexit.
Three former Cabinet ministers have been secretly filmed and exposed trying to make money from giving out information on Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Andrew Lansley, Peter Lilley, and Andrew Mitchell were caught trying to profit from providing “intelligence” on Brexit negotiations to a Chinese company, according to a joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.
The Sunday Times was tipped off by sources within Whitehall and the Conservative party that Brexit had triggered a “lobbying frenzy,” as businesses are eager to get information about the negotiations. Undercover reporters then invited a number of former ministers to interviews for a job on the advisory board of Tianfen, a fake Chinese company.
Lord Lansley, who served as health secretary under David Cameron, was filmed being offered tens of thousands of pounds. He also said the deal could be kept secret from authorities if he was employed through his wife’s company, Low Europe.
Peter Lilley, who was the Tory party’s deputy leader between 1998 and 1999, also expressed interest in approaching key ministers for Tianfen.
The MP Andrew Mitchell was willing to give paid advice to the company for £6,000 a day and said he would work up to 10 weeks a year. The Times reported he already gets paid nearly £75,000 for his job as an MP. “My constituents don’t mind what I’m paid,” he said while being filmed.
Lansley said he was already making €5,000 a day (around £4384) by giving Brexit advice to his pharmaceutical clients. He spoke about his connections at the top of government, such as Prime Minister Theresa May and Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade.
However, he appeared to draw the line at lobbying government directly, saying conversations had to follow the rules. But he did offer introductions to senior Brexit figures.
Lansley said in a statement that he always kept his outside interests separate to his Lord’s duties.
Lilley revealed his “good relationships” with Fox and David Davis, and said he was happy to have chats with them on behalf of Tianfen. Last week, he denied being asked or agreeing to have private conversations with any ministers on behalf of Tianfen, and any suggestion the company would get insider information was “wholly misplaced.”
Mitchell said he could advise the owner of the company on Brexit, by drawing on his business experience and inner knowledge of government. He said last week that all his outside interests were fully declared on the Commons register.
In total, the Times has discovered that more than 20 politicians are making money out of Brexit.
“To take advantage of this difficult time and confusion to make extra money doesn’t demonstrate a great deal of concern for the public interest,” said Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, after seeing the footage.
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Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservative-ministers-wrongdoing-brexit-advice-private-firms-lord-lansley-andrew-mitchell-peter-a8182661.html
Source : http://uk.businessinsider.com/cabinet-ministers-caught-selling-brexit-information-to-chinese-company-2018-1