An exchange between the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and tech boss James Dyson has triggered criticism by Labour MPs, who disagree with the opposition party’s former leader Tony Blair.
In text messages to James Dyson, Boris Johnson assured the tech tycoon that his employees would not pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tony Blair, the former UK Prime Minister (Labour), has sided with Johnson, saying his correspondence with Dyson should be overlooked.
Blair’s comments contrast the Labour party’s stance, with opposition MPs blasting Johnson for making deals behind the public’s back.
“The sleaze never stops. It’s wrong to get tax breaks just because you have the PM on speed dial. Boris Johnson must now agree to a full, transparent and independent inquiry into lobbying,” said Tottenham MP David Lammy.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has joined Blair in his support for Johnson, saying that the PM and Dyson agreed on the ventilator tax break deal for the good of the public, not for their own gains.
In the face of Labour’s condemnation and call for “a full, transparent, and independent inquiry into lobbying,” Dyson said that he would “do the same again if asked.”
Whether or not the deal between Johnson and Dyson falls in the grey area between good governance and abuse of power, Labour is adamant about the need for an inquiry into lobbying to “end the scandal of Conservative politicians abusing taxpayer money.”
Former Tory PM David Cameron has also been caught up in a lobbying scandal since last year after exchanging messages with Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Cameron lobbied the government on behalf of financial services company Greensill Capital to secure access to a Bank of England Covid-19 loan scheme meant to aid businesses during the pandemic.