Boris Johnson news – live: New Cameron lobbying details emerge

Table of Contents Key PointsWhat is David Cameron’s role at Illumina? Sign up for The…

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.

Meanwhile, new research showed the Conservatives are receiving donations worth £17,500 a day from property developers, prompting Labour to accuse the government of siding with them over planning law and workers’ rights.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner published analysis indicating that gifts to the Tories from companies directly linked to property development have totalled just over £10m since the start of 2019, as she separately suggested Mr Cameron’s behaviour showed that the rules intended to regulate lobbying are “completely unfit for purpose” and require a radical overhaul.

It came as Priti Patel was warned of “shocking” conditions at a facility housing asylum-seekers in Kent, with MPs on the Home Affairs Committee raising “immediate” concerns about overcrowding, the length of stays and the “clear risk” of a Covid outbreak.

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What is David Cameron’s role at Illumina?

David Cameron met vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi with representatives from Illumina Cambridge Ltd on 1 March 2021, “to discuss UK genomics sequencing” official government records show.

Shortly afterwards, the company was awarded a £697,788 Public Health England contract, followed by a second worth between £34,564 and £172,824 a week later.

But who are Illumnia and what was the former prime minister’s role at the company?

Illumina are an American biotech company who offer a range of services, including scientific research and the manufacture and supply of medical equipment.

Mr Cameron was appointed as an adviser at the company in 2018, when he told the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments that he would be paid for working two to three days a month for the company.

While applying for clearance to take up the role, he told the committee that he would be expected to “to provide strategic advice; assist with business development, particularly in an international context; and perform other duties, as reasonably requested by the Board”.

He added that he would not play any role in contract negotiations between Illumina and the Department of Health and Social Care or the DHSC-owned Genomics England; nor would he “lobby ministers or the UK government in any way on behalf of Illumina or its partners”.

A spokesperson for Illumina said: “Illumina always follows the correct and necessary process in its negotiations with customers.

“We have worked with Genomics England since 2013, when we won a competitive tender process for the £78m contract for the 100,000 Genomes Project. Our ISO-accredited facilities in Cambridge were chosen by Genomics England as being the most appropriate in the UK in terms of being able to deliver this advanced genomics programme.

“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.”

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 17:00

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Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 16:41

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‘Window of opportunity’ to resolve post-Brexit trade, NI first minister says

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan has said that a “window of opportunity” to resolve post-Brexit trading issues has opened up.

Mr Givan said at a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) that mutual “recognition” between the UK and the EU that the Northern Ireland Protocol is harmful means that such an opportunity has emerged.

He also stressed the Irish government has a role in influencing the EU.

“What we have is a window of opportunity with the UK government recognising the political, societal and economic harm that has been caused by that protocol,” he said.

“Obviously the Irish Government have a very important role in influencing how the European Union conducts its approach to addressing those issues.

“Nobody should be under any illusion as to the implications that the protocol has had, the manner in which it was foisted upon the Unionist community and the way in which there was engagement for the European Union, where we had photographs of border posts being bombed in the 1970s in order to get the European Union on side when it came to this protocol.

“That caused huge damage within the Unionist community, by the way in which the Irish Government at that time engaged in the process.

Joanna Taylor30 July 2021 16:23

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Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more details on the Apsana Begum trial verdict.

He reports that the not guilty verdict lifts the threat to Keir Starmer of a potentially awkward by-election in a seat where it was thought that George Galloway might make another attempt to seize a traditionally solid Labour constituency with a large Muslim electorate.

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 16:00

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Apsana Begum cleared of housing fraud charges

Apsana Begum has been found not guilty of housing fraud.

The Labour MP was cleared on all three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information relating to her council housing application, during three periods between January 2013 and March 2016.

Commenting on her acquittal, Ms Begum said: “As a survivor of domestic abuse facing these vexatious charges, the last 18 months of false accusations, online sexist, racist and Islamophobic abuse, and threats to my safety, have been exceedingly difficult.

“I will be consulting and considering how to follow up so that something like this doesn’t happen again to anyone else.”

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 15:50

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Speaking to OpenDemocracy, which uncovered the fresh details of David Cameron’s lobbying efforts, Angela Rayner said: “David Cameron’s behaviour is evidence that the rules that are supposed to regulate lobbying are completely unfit for purpose and need a radical and urgent overhaul.

“There appears to be nobody in government who the former prime minister has not lobbied in an effort to enrich himself and his clients during this pandemic.”

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 15:35

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‘Window of opportunity’ to fix NI Protocol, first minister says

There is a “window of opportunity” to resolve the issues caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol, the country’s first minister Paul Givan has said, during a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council.

“The European Union has now suspended its litigation and there’s recognition that the protocol is causing harm, that there needs to be constructive engagement between the UK government and the European Union,” Mr Givan said.

“Obviously the Irish Government have a very important role in influencing how the European Union conducts its approach to addressing those issues.

“Nobody should be under any illusion as to the implications that the protocol has had, the manner in which it was foisted upon the Unionist community and the way in which there was engagement for the European Union, where we had photographs of border posts being bombed in the 1970s in order to get the European Union on side when it came to this protocol.”

Irish premier Micheal Martin described the meeting as “good, relaxed, engaged and pragmatic”, and suggested that the issues can be ironed out and resolved if the “political will” exists.

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 15:32

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Priti Patel urged to ‘get a grip’ over asylum accommodation

SNP MP Stuart McDonald – another MP on the Home Affairs Committee, which visited Kent Intake Unit this week – said: “It appears the home secretary has learned nothing from the Napier and Penally barracks scandals, and is continuing to treat vulnerable people appallingly, ignore public health advice and put people in danger – the very people she is tasked with looking after.

“It is beyond time for Priti Patel to get a grip when it comes to accommodating vulnerable asylum seekers. We have had scandal after scandal under her watch and it cannot continue.”

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 15:11

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UK ‘needs to get on with it and fast’ in resettling Afghan interpreters, prominent Tory MP says

The Tory chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, has urged UK to expedite its resettling of Afghan interpreters who served alongside British armed forces.

“I very much welcome the efforts that the government has made. But there are always going to be bureaucratic glitches, there are always going to be things that need ironing out, and up until a month or so ago we had the time to do it,” Mr Tugendhat told the BBC’s World at One programme.

“Well, now we don’t, because we are withdrawing and that means that everybody is in much greater risk than they were only a few weeks ago, and so we need to get on with it and fast.”

He added: “Because the reality is anybody who did work for us who is left behind, if they are found by the Taliban it won’t just be them who is killed, it will be their children and their families.”

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 14:56

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David Cameron met vaccines minister shortly before award of contracts to company he advises

David Cameron met Nadhim Zahawi with representatives of a private health firm which he advises, two months before the US company won public contracts worth up to £870,000, our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.

The meeting, uncovered by Open Democracy, is listed in official government transparency records as taking place between Mr Zahawi, Mr Cameron and Illumina on 1 March 2021 “to discuss UK genomics sequencing”. Read the full story here:

Andy Gregory30 July 2021 14:39