Sturgeon explodes at Boris over 'powerful stench of sleaze' – demands urgent investigation


Earlier on Wednesday, it was reported Mr Johnson has exchanged text messages with billionaire Sir James Dyson over the tax status of the entrepreneur’s employees. The Prime Minister promised Sir James he would “fix” the issue after personal lobbying from the billionaire as he was looking to build ventilators early on in the coronavirus pandemic. Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, had written to the Treasury asking that his staff not pay additional tax if they came to the UK to work on the plans for ventilators.

But when he didn’t receive a reply, the entrepreneur made a private appeal to Mr Johnson, the BBC reported.

He wrote in a text message his company was ready but that “sadly” it appeared nobody wanted them to proceed.

The Prime Minister replied: “I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic.”

In a pre-recorded interview on ITV’s Peston, which airs on ITV at 10.45pm on Wednesday evening, Ms Sturgeon was asked if she had any sympathy with Mr Johnson doing all he could to get ventilators.

Scotland’s First Minister replied: “Well I think there are two things. Firstly, it was a desperate time and we were all trying to do all of the right things to keep people safe, but we were asking all sorts of people to do that, nurses and doctors on the frontline, and they didn’t all have the Prime Minister’s mobile phone number or my mobile phone number to ask for special treatment when it came to tax.

“So I do think we should think about that very carefully. And then there’s just the almost sort of behind the scenes you know deals being done.

But then she raged: “Look, there is I think a quite powerful stench of sleaze starting to surround this Tory government, and I think they really need to open it up to some fresh air.

“My colleague Ian Blackford has rightly called for a full inquiry into all of this today and it’s a call that I fully back.”

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During Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons earlier on Wednesday, Mr Johnson strongly defended his actions.

He told Parliament: “I make absolutely no apology at all for shifting heaven and earth and doing everything I possibly could to secure ventilators for the people of this country and to save lives.”

Mr Johnson insisted he was “happy to share all the details” of the exchanges as there was “nothing to conceal”.

But Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer raged: “The Prime Minister is fixing tax breaks for his friends, the Chancellor is pushing the Treasury to help Lex Greensill, the Health Secretary is meeting Greensill for drinks, and David Cameron is texting anybody who will reply.

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“Every day there are new allegations about this Conservative Government: dodgy PPE deals; tax breaks for their mates; the Health Secretary owns shares in a company delivering NHS services.

“Sleaze, sleaze, sleaze, and it’s all on his watch.

“With this scandal now firmly centred on him, how on earth does he expect people to believe that he is the person to clean this mess up?”

Mr Johnson hit back: “I’ll tell you why this Government is doing the right thing at the right time.

“Because the difference between us and the Labour Party is, I’m afraid, staringly obvious and we get on with taking the tough decisions to protect the people of this country and to take our country forward – uniting and levelling up.”

The Prime Minister also came under fire from the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who called on the Tory leader to reveal “how many more Covid contracts he personally fixed” and publish all personal exchanges on these contracts.

Mr Johnson again hit back: “There’s absolutely nothing to conceal about this and I am happy to share all the details with the House, as indeed I have shared them with my officials immediately.”



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