Blog: UK politics news – live: New Cameron lobbying revelations as Labour accuses Tories of helping ‘elite donors’ – The Independent

Boris Johnson says stop and search policy is ‘kind and loving’

David Cameron has become embroiled in yet more lobbying allegations, after official transparency records showed he and representatives of a private health firm which he advises met with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, two months before the US firm won public contracts worth up to £870,000.

While applying for clearance for the role in 2018, the former prime minister told the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments that he would not play any role in contract negotiations between Illumnia Cambridge Ltd and the Department of Social Care or “lobby ministers or the UK government in any way on behalf of Illumina or its partners”.

An Illumina spokesperson said: “The vast majority of David Cameron’s work with Illumina is outside the UK, representing the best practices of the UK in genomics to other countries.” Mr Cameron is yet to comment on the allegations.

Meanwhile, Labour has accused the Conservatives of granting a “select group of elite donors” access to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak through a secretive club. Chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said that the Party’s so-called ‘Advisory Board’ “appears to be less of an advisory board than a means for a select group of elite donors to gain privileged access to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor”.

Her comments follow a report in The Financial Times that says that Conservative officials have confirmed the ‘Advisory Board’ of major Tory donors “occasionally” meet with Johnson and Sunak. The Conservatives says that donations to their Party “comply fully with the law”.

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COP26 President Alok Sharma had a “constructive visit” to Saudi Arabia, he said.

The front-bencher confirmed that he met with the nation’s energy, environment and finance ministers.

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 20:20

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Boris Johnson urged to step up efforts to get agreement at climate summit

Boris Johnson has been urged to step up efforts to secure agreement on stemming global warming, amid concern in some corners of Whitehall over a lack of urgency ahead of a crucial international summit he will chair in November.

With less than 100 days to go to the Glasgow conference, there were warnings that hopes of a landmark deal may be unravelling.

And Mr Johnson’s independent climate change adviser warned it was time for him to use “every diplomatic lever” to secure pledges from fellow leaders on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and financial support to help developing countries adapt.

One Whitehall insider said the government’s response to the climate crisis would have been deadly if it had been applied to the pandemic, warning: “If we had the same approach on Covid, we would still be debating which groups would get the first vaccine trials. We are out of time.”

‘We are out of time’: Insider warns of lack of urgency

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Tories could struggle to retain support in traditional heartlands, poll suggests

The Conservatives are struggling to retain popularity in their traditional heartlands, a new poll has suggested.

The party would lose up to 16 of the 53 seats they currently hold in the South and East of England that voted Remain in 2016 and have a higher-than-average concentration of degree holders if an election were held tomorrow, YouGov say.

That represents a change of -8 from their 2019 performance in these constituencies. Among the major issues cited by poll respondents in these areas were the Tories’s handling of Brexit and development of HS2.

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 19:40

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Drugs crisis is Scotland’s ‘national shame’, MEP says

More than 1,300 people died as a result of drug use in Scotland in 2020, official figures show.

This represents an increase of five per cent on the previous year.

Scotland has the highest drug death in Europe; it is three-and-a-half times that of England and Wales.

Drug minister Angela Constance said: “These figures demonstrate a shocking scale of loss of life, the loss of life is both heartbreaking and utterly unacceptable and I want to offer my condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross criticised the government’s record on drugs.

“The drugs crisis is our national shame. It is a stain on Scotland that so many of our most vulnerable people have been left without hope, crushed by a system that is thoroughly broken,” he said.

“This is not a day for political posturing but it is a simple fact that the government’s small steps are not cutting it. The crisis is getting worse and spiralling out of control.

“We need a united national effort to make the drastic changes necessary to overhaul the broken system.”

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 19:17

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MPs received more than £100k worth of free tickets to Covid pilot scheme events, reports say

MPs received more than £100,000 worth of free tickets as part of the government’s Covid pilot scheme for large events, reports say.

Cabinet ministers Ben Wallace and Brandon Lewis, as well as Labour leader Keir Starmer, benefited from free tickets this summer, The Guardian report, while a further 35 MPs took part in the research project.

Tickets were to sporting and cultural events including the Euro 2020 final, tennis at Wimbledon and the Brit awards.

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 19:02

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‘No jab no job’ policies set to spark deluge of employment tribunals, lawyers warn

Lawyers expect a wave of legal action against UK companies over attempts to make sure staff are double-vaccinated against Covid, amid growing fears of draconian “no jab no job” policies in the workplace.

Trade unions have criticised the government for encouraging the idea of mandatory vaccination for office staff – after transport secretary Grant Shapps said it was a “good idea” for companies to insist staff are double-jabbed.

Tech giant Google has said mandatory jabs for US employees will later be rolled out to staff in 40 countries where it operates, and Mr Shapps said he expected some British firms will soon “require” full vaccination.

Employment lawyers told The Independent that British firms had been in touch to explore their options on putting Covid vaccination requirements in place.

Unions lead backlash after minister claims ‘good idea’ for companies to insist staff are double-jabbed

Adam Forrest 30 July 2021 18:19

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Conservatives respond to secretive club of ‘elite donors’ claims

The Conservative Party has responded to claims that major donors are granted access to the prime minister and chancellor through a secretive club.

A spokesperson for the Party said: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.

“Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process. The alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals.”

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 18:04

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Labour accuse govt of granting Tory donors access to PM through secretive club

Labour has accused the Conservative Party of granting a “select group of elite donors” access to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak through a secretive club.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said that the Party’s so-called ‘Advisory Board’ “appears to be less of an advisory board than a means for a select group of elite donors to gain privileged access to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor”.

Her comments follow a report in The Financial Times that says that Conservative officials have confirmed the ‘Advisory Board’ of Tory donors “occasionally” meet with Johnson and Sunak.

The report also quotes businessman Mohamed Amersi as saying that, in order to join, “one needs to cough up £250,000 per annum or be a friend of Ben”.

Ben Elliot, the Conservative Party’s co-chair, developed the ‘Advisory Board’.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.

“Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process. The alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals.”

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 17:54

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Scottish drug minister will consider ‘Right to Rehab’ plans

Scotland’s drugs minister has pledged to look “seriously” at Conservative plans to legislate a “Right to Rehab” for drug users.

Angela Constance, an SNP MEP, said that she would consider the Scottish Conservatives’s Right to Recovery bill on its publication.

She said that she would “look at it very seriously”, adding: “Meantime, I would argue people already have rights to health care that meets their needs.”

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 17:28

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Green Party welcome High Court ruling on Stonehenge tunnel

The Green Party has welcomed the High Court’s decision to quash government-approved plans for a road tunnel to be built near Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

A Green spokesperson, Caroline Russell, said that the court was “right” to accept this legal challenge which “stops the carbon-smashing, heritage-destroying road under Stonehenge in its tracks”.

Ms Russell added that her Party would like to see the government “halt the whole of their damaging and emissions busting £27bn road building programme”.

The Highways England project was aimed at reducing traffic and cutting journey time in between the South East and South West.

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 17:14

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