Who now, is “in Bed with the Reds”?

“Reds under the Bed” was the phrase commonly used by the right wing to question, during the cold war, the allegiance of those on the left or even the centre.

“Is he one of us?” became a stock Thatcher question, asked of impartial civil servants and even would-be bishops.

It is quite a turn-around then, to find that those who used the phrase so freely on others have recently been all too eager to jump into the same bed as these bogeys, with serious consequences to national security! 

Here, by way of illustration, is the latest news on the “Laundromat” from Wednesday’s London Playbook:

Laundromat latest: Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for the Conservative Party to hand back millions of pounds of donations from Russian sources. Speaking on Tuesday night, he said: “Labour stands united with the government and our allies in the attempts to deal with the threat of Russian aggression. But alongside action abroad, there must finally be proper action to tackle corruption at home. For a decade, the Tories have not just failed to challenge Russian influence — they have enabled it. As a result, the U.K. is seen as a laundromat for kleptocrats’ dirty money, our institutions have been damaged and an entire cottage industry has grown up dedicated to lobbying for and protecting those close to the Kremlin. If Boris Johnson is now serious about tackling Russian dirty money and influence, he should immediately get his own house in order. That means returning the millions of pounds of Russian-linked cash that has been donated to the Tories and their MPs since he became prime minister, and reversing his plans to allow unlimited donations from abroad.”

Good luck with that … Former Conservative Minister Edward Faulks tells the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour that during Theresa May’s premiership, No. 10 “leant on him” to drop amendments in the Lords aimed at cracking down on money-laundering and “dirty money” in London.

“Is he one of us?“, might be a question to ask of Boris Johnson. – Owl

Lib Dems in bid to force publication of full Sue Gray No 10 parties report

“Humble Address”

A new attempt will be launched next week to force publication of the full report into whether No 10 parties broke Covid laws, with Conservative MPs urged to support the move to ensure there are “no more cover-ups and no more lies”.

Aubrey Allegretti www.theguardian.com 

While more questionnaires were sent out by Scotland Yard to those who attended a dozen gatherings under investigation, a “humble address” motion was tabled in the House of Commons by the Liberal Democrats.

If passed, ministers would be forced to release a specific set of documents within two days of the Met concluding its investigation. A date has yet to be set for the vote, but could come on the next opposition day allocated to the Lib Dems.

It also emerged on Wednesday that the former major Tory donor John Armitage is now funding some staffing costs for the Labour frontbencher Wes Streeting, in an escalation of his opposition to Boris Johnson.

Armitage, who revealed last week he had lost confidence in Johnson after giving £3m to the Conservatives, has donated £15,000 to the running of Streeting’s office. He previously donated £12,500 to Labour in March last year and £60,000 to the former MP Frank Field in 2016 and 2017. He also donated £65,000 to the remain campaign.

The papers being demanded include an unredacted version of Sue Gray’s report, all accompanying evidence collected by the Cabinet Office, and a list of Downing Street staff issued with a fixed penalty notice.

The move will reignite pressure on the government over the Partygate scandal, which has resulted in calls from some Tory MPs for Boris Johnson to resign.

Despite the prime minister having attended some of the events under scrutiny, including a “bring your own booze” garden party organised by one of his most senior former civil service advisers, he has continued to deny any wrongdoing and has avoided a no-confidence vote.

There are concerns that some details may never be known, after a leaked Whitehall memo to those investigated by Gray said the Met “will not make public the details of their investigation and therefore your line manager will not be notified”.

The Lib Dem’s humble address motion was tabled and backed by all 13 of the party’s MPs. Ed Davey, the party leader, said Johnson “can’t be trusted to admit whether he or any other Conservative ministers end up being fined by the police”, and “we’ve seen time and again that his instinct is to lie, blame others or cover up the truth”.

He added: “MPs from across all parties need to come together and force Boris Johnson to come clean. The public deserves to know whether our prime minister has broken the law, and for the full Sue Gray report, including any photos, to be published.

“If Johnson is found to have broken the law, he must fess up and resign. No more cover-ups, no more lies.”

Labour’s next opposition day is on 23 February, meaning that if the Met investigation has concluded by that point, Keir Starmer could table his own humble address motion to force the publication of documents related to the Gray inquiry.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, has meanwhile written to the Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay and the cabinet secretary, Simon Case, demanding a reassurance that Johnson and his staff have not been receiving any taxpayer-funded legal advice.

Downing Street also admitted this week that no minutes were taken at the garden party attended by Johnson on 20 May 2020 that he said he thought had been a “work event”.

A freedom of information request that asked for a record of discussions yielded no response, with No 10 pointing to government rules that say minutes do not need to be kept for some events, including those that are “purely informal or of a social nature”.

Johnson has refused to say whether he would step down if fined by the police for breaking Covid laws but his spokesperson has suggested Downing Street will reveal if the prime minister does get a fixed penalty notice.

This article was amended on 17 February 2022. Due to an editing error, an early version referred to Frank Field as the “the late” former MP. We apologise for this.

For those who missed it, Bercow’s Monday Rant

“Johnson worst PM ‘by a country mile’ 

“A narcissist, ritually dishonest, having a nodding acquaintance with the truth at best on a leap year, responsible for a catalogue of failures, the most………

‘Never has a prime minister wielded so much power’ and made ‘so little effective use of it’, claims John Bercow, former Speaker of the House of Commons.

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