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Tory ministers are the bosses of firms they legislate on

Rishi Sunak's Tory ministers are showing that its the easiest thing in the world to go from the cabinet straight to the boardroom
Issue 2852
Tom Tugendhat Rishi Sunak Tories

Tom Tugendhat and Rishi Sunak (picture: Number 10 on Flickr)

At least ten of Rishi Sunak’s ministers have been allowed to keep their roles as directors of private companies while being in government after getting special permission to retain their business interests.

Among those to carry on with ­directorships are Dominic Johnson, a senior business and trade minister who is director of an investment company with more than £4 million of assets.  Another is Chris Philp, a senior Home Office minister who is also director of an investment company and a partner in the property firm Pluto.

The directorships were disclosed in the new register of ministerial interests at a time when senior Conservatives serving in government appear increasingly ­reluctant to give up their business links. Viscount Camrose, a hereditary peer and minister in the department for science, innovation and technology, was allowed to retain directorships in five investment companies, while Lord Callahan, an energy minister, is the director of his own consultancy.

Tom Tugendhat, a Home Office ­minister, declared a directorship of a consultancy that he said he was winding up.  Lord Markham, a health minister since September, remains part-owner of a private Covid testing company despite having repeatedly said he was in the process of divesting his stake. 

He is also director of two other ­companies. The list of ministerial interests also shows that Andrew Griffith, a treasury minister with responsibility for new regulation of cryptocurrencies, is an investor in Brent Hoberman’s Firstminute Capital LLP, a seed investor in crypto firms, AI and financial ­technology firms.

The others include Mark Spencer, an environment minister, and Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, who are directors of family farming businesses, and Lord Offord, a Scotland office minister and director of Badenoch Investments, a family investment company.

Sunak also officially disclosed his wife’s shareholding in the childcare company Koru Kids for the first time in the list.

  • King Charles III has inherited assets that have propelled his wealth to almost £2 billion, according to analysis by the Guardian newspaper. The monarch’s personal fortune is largely concealed from public scrutiny and it is impossible to know the complete value of his estate. His haul includes mansions and diamond-encrusted jewellery, paintings by Monet and Dalí,  Rolls-Royces, racehorses and rare stamps.

The research throws into sharp relief the royals most valuable financial asset—total immunity from inheritance tax. It has probably allowed Charles to receive his mother’s wealth free of any tax.

Free McDonald’s for cops 

McDonald’s restaurants offered the racist and sexist Metropolitan police cut-price burgers and free hot drinks during Extinction Rebellion protests—but senior officers warned staff not to “flaunt” it, documents show.

Franchises also granted liberal use of their toilets during the central London demonstrations. A police chief praised this in an internal email as a “convenient” deal that would “allow short breaks” for patrolling officers.

The correspondence, obtained under freedom of information (FoI) laws, shows the Met said the restaurants offered its staff a discount on food at “about half price” during the October 2019 protests.

The force accepted a “very kind offer” of free teas and coffees, and accepted “exclusive” terms from individual franchises to use their premises after 11pm “whilst XR continues”.

McDonald’s produces slightly more greenhouse gas emissions than Norway, according to a 2021 report.

Rail firms cash in our money

The RMT rail union has revealed that transport secretary Mark Harper allowed two private rail companies to be paid £82 million in dividends in 2022.

FirstRail Holdings Ltd, the holding company for five FirstGroup franchises, and Govia Thameslink Railways, which runs the biggest franchise in Britain, have recently reported dividend payments of £65 million and £16.9 million in their annual accounts for 2022.

Govia won a contract to carry on running the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise from the government in October 2022 despite its sister company LSER being stripped of the Southeastern franchise for concealing public money.

The DfT allowed Go‑Ahead Group to conduct its own internal inquiry into the failings at LSER.

It renewed Govia’s contract for the Thameslink franchise in spite of the fact that the two companies shared many of the same management personnel.

All these franchises have benefited hundreds of millions of pounds in our money by the DfT to cover the costs of lost passenger revenue during strikes.

Gove hides in hut on his roof

Michael Gove has been taking his smoking breaks in a special hut built for him on the roof of his departmental office. The taxpayer-funded smoking den was built specifically for Gove shortly after he was appointed levelling up secretary in October 2021 and he was heckled by anti-lockdown protesters.

Gove was filmed strolling with a coffee in one hand and a red folder in the other, but did not engage with the group.  He was then accosted by people who surrounded him and hurled insults including “absolute wanker” and “fucking idiot”.

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