I am well aware that the supposed inquiry into David Cameron’s obeying is said to be all about whether he complied with lobbying rules or not, and whether as a result those rules need reform, but if you read the government’s own announcement of the review that’s not what it says it is about, at all. That announcement says:
A Review into the Development and Use of Supply Chain Finance (and associated schemes) related to Greensill Capital in Government, led by Nigel Boardman, has been announced by the Government today.
The Prime Minister has asked Mr Boardman to conduct a review that will look into the decisions taken around the development and use of supply chain finance (and associated schemes) in government, especially the role of Lex Greensill and Greensill Capital.
Mr Boardman will have access to all necessary government information required to conduct the review and will engage with those involved at the time when decisions were made and will report his findings to the Prime Minister no later than the end of June 2021. He will pause his work as a non-executive Director of BEIS while the review is carried out.
It will be noted that David Cameron is not mentioned.
It will also be noted that this is not an independent enquiry: a Director of BEIS is doing it, even if he is a non-exec.
And it will be noted that the focus is not on lobbying, but is instead on ‘the development use of supply chain finance in government’.
For what it’s worth, I answered that question here, very recently. There is quite literally no role at all for supply chain finance in government when the government can always create money costlessly and if it must borrow can always do so cheaper than any other market participant. So no debate on that issue is required. The answer is too obvious to necessitate an inquiry.
So what is going on here? I suggest there are three things.
First, there is an attempt to silence debate on this whole issue. Although it is said that Johnson is shafting Cameron by announcing this review it does not look like that to me. He is killing debate on it now and changing the terms of reference to ensure that nothing meaningful is said that the end of the day. And the news media have fallen for that.
Second, Johnson wants a distraction from his own abuses. Corruption always gets Conservative governments in the end. It will this one. And if one Prime Minister can be corrupt the question can be asked as to whether another one can be. This is far too close to home for Johnson.
Third, it would not surprise me if the review is rigged to find that there is a role for supply chain finance. After all, why not create another golden opportunity for Tory friends to win? Every scandal needs a silver lining after all. This one might just deliver one.
This story is not over yet. And maybe the corruption isn't either.