One Conservative MP, serially critical of Johnson’s record as prime minister, told openDemocracy: “Boris plays by his own rules. If we did not know at the beginning, we know it now. He is reluctant to use his own money in anything connected to his role as PM.”
Johnson has form when it comes to delaying the release of potentially damaging information.
In March 2019, Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) examined Russian interference in British politics. The 50-page ‘Russia Report’ was sent to Johnson in Number 10 in October. It was eventually published, heavily redacted, in July 2020.
The Russia Report found that “a lot of Russians with very close links to Putin” were “well integrated into the UK business and social scene”. Johnson refused to act on its conclusion that the government must “take the necessary measures to… challenge the impunity of Putin-linked elites”.
Although it is illegal for any Russian national to donate to a UK political party, those with dual UK-Russian status, or UK nationals with significant links to Putin’s Kremlin, have donated to the Conservative Party in recent years. Labour claims that Russian-linked donors have given close to £2m to the Conservatives since Johnson became leader.
Prime ministers have often entertained guests at Chequers. The last transparency release from David Cameron’s time in office showed that, between October and December 2015, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Xi Jinping of China, and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, all visited Chequers.
But no full lists of those Cameron entertained at Chequers were published. During Cameron’s time in government, this lack of transparency was criticised by the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sir Alistair Graham. He said the public “had a right to be suspicious” and that partial lists risked damaging public trust in the government.
The Cabinet Office was approached for comment but had yet to respond at the time of publication.
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