Sunday 15 November 2020 10:18 am

Labour turns spotlight on Covid deals between government and Tory donors

The Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Valerie Vaz, has said a public inquiry is needed following the publication of a ‘map’ of deals between the UK government, multiple Conservative Party donors, several Tory MPs and some of their family members.

Vaz, Labour MP for Walsall South, calls for an investigation into claims made in the so-called ‘My Little Crony’ map, published by a political sciences student at Harvard, Sophie Hill.

Hill’s map shows a web of government contracts, political donations and other agreements between key players in Cabinet, Whitehall, the Conservative Party, a range of MPs and some of their family members.

“I think it might be time for a public inquiry, particularly on the £670,000 that has been allocated by the vaccine tsar for public relations. Now if you look at the ‘My Little Crony’ interactive map, it will link directly to the special, special adviser’s relation,” Vaz said.

Vaccine taskforce chief

Last week, It was revealed that vaccine taskforce chief Kate Bingham, who is married to Tory minister Jesse Norman, had spent £670,000 of public money on PR advisers from a boutique company since being appointed to the role in May.

Bingham is reportedly close associates with the father-in-law of prime minister Boris Johnson’s former top aide Dominic Cummings, who left Downing Street on Friday following an unrelated dispute.

The contracts for the PR advisers span until the end of this year when Bingham is expected to step down from the role. Johnson earlier congratulated her, saying she had done “fantastic work.”

‘Crony’ map

On the ‘My Little Crony’ map, Hill demonstrates how a range of government contracts have been awarded to political donors of the Conservative Party, or their associates, family members or employers.

By using data from the openDemocracy platform and a number of other public sources, Hill zoomed in on government projects that were assigned since the start of the pandemic. She did this to expose the “scale of cronyism” within the UK government, as Hill put it.

For example, in September the company Globus Shetland Ltd reportedly won a government contract close to £94m for supplying face masks. In the last four years, the company donated around £400,000 to the Conservative Party.