Good morning. Last night there were calls for an inquiry into Rishi Sunak’s financial interests – from the chancellor himself. This amounts to voluntarily handing yourself in to the regulatory authorities, and it is a tactic often used by MPs facing misconduct allegations when they a) want to regain control of the narrative, and b) are reasonably confident that they will be cleared.
On the latter point, Sunak does not seem to have any doubts. He has asked for an inquiry by Lord Geidt, the prime minister’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, into the declarations of interest he has made as a minister and he says he is “confident that such a review of my declarations will find all relevant information was appropriately declared”.
Sunak made his move in response to a letter from Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, calling for an inquiry into Sunak’s alleged failure to declare relevant financial interests, as well as other matters, including his possession of a US green card until quite recently. But Sunak’s statement has failed to silence Labour, and this morning Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary, renewed his claim that Sunak may have broken the ministerial code. Asked if he thought this was possible, Reed told the Today programme:
Absolutely. But it’s not an isolated incident, there are other failures here as well. He also failed to declare his wife’s £690-million share-hold in Infosys, an IT company based in India, which has had, according to what we’ve been able to find out, 15 different one-to-one meetings with senior ministers, including the prime minister, and has been awarded multimillion-pound government contracts.
Now, if the chancellor’s household is benefiting from contracts of that kind that should have been something that he declared in the register of interest, but he didn’t.
There’s a whole list of areas where the chancellor appears to have failed to declare things he should have declared.
George Eustice, the environment secretary, was defending Sunak in his morning interview round. I will post highlights from his interviews shortly.
Parliament is not sitting, and the diary for today is relatively empty. But we have a Downing Street lobby briefing at 11.30am, and Keir Starmer is campaigning in the north-east. And in Bournemouth the National Education Union’s conference is taking place.
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