Greensill: the scale of David Cameron’s lobbying texts revealed

Some of the messages sent by the former PM and his staff to Gove, Sunak and other top officials

David Cameron and his personal employees bombarded senior ministers and officials with at least 50 emails, texts and WhatsApp messages about Greensill between 5 March and 26 June 2020.

He sent:

• Nine WhatsApps to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak

• Two WhatsApp messages to Richard Sharp, adviser to Rishi Sunak

• 12 texts to Sir Tom Scholar, the permanent secretary at the Treasury.

• A dozen texts/emails/phone calls and other messages were sent to: the Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove; the health secretary, Matt Hancock; the vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi; the economic secretary, John Glen; and the financial secretary, Jesse Norman.

• Four emails and one text went to Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England.

• Seven messages and calls went to Sheridan Westlake, a senior adviser to Boris Johnson.

Cameron often signed off the messages “Dc” or with a simple “👍”

In a text message to Scholar on 6 March 2020, when the financial markets were in freefall at the start of the pandemic:

“I am riding to the rescue with supply chain finance with my new friend Lex Greensill

Cameron also questioned the Bank of England’s response to the mounting crisis, saying that he “never quite understood how [interest] rate cuts help a pandemic”.

He added that he hoped to “see you with Rishi’s for an elbow bump or foot tap. Love Dc.”

A text to Gove on 3 April, when Boris Johnson was isolating with Covid symptoms:

“I know you are manically busy – and doing a great job, by the way (this is bloody hard and I think the team is coping extremely well. But do you have a moment for a word? I am on this number and v free. All good wishes Dc.”

A text to Rishi Sunak at 19.05 on 3 April 2020:

“First thing would be fine – I can imagine how busy you must be. You are doing a great job – keep going! Speak tomorrow. Dc.”

One minute later, at 19.06, Cameron texted Gove again:

“Ta. Am now speaking to Rishi first thing tomorrow. If I am still stuck, can I call you then? Thanks! Dc.”

A follow up text to Sunak the next day 4 April at 08.14:

“Rishi – ready to speak whenever you are free. Just sent a one pager that I hope clarifies things. Really appreciate your time. Best wishes. Dc.”

One hour later, Cameron texted Scholar:

“Good chat with CX [the Chancellor]. Ultimately my ask was for one more high level chat – Charles [Roxborough, the second permanent secretary to HM Treasury], you and Lex – to see if these objections about boundaries and precedents can’t be overcome. He agreed, We can do that anytime today or tomorrow. Meantime, could you possibly call Lex to get his perspective on how fixable this is? Might make the main conversation much shorter …. I am really grateful. Best, DC.”

At 09.39 on the same day, 4 April, Cameron sent another message to Sunak:

“Really grateful for your engagement on this”. “As I said if there is anything else I can help with, just let me know.”

The next day, 5 April, Cameron texted Gove again: saying (of Sunak):

“ He’s doing a great job. could I call you at 7?”

On 22 April, after the Treasury refused to grant Greensill access to the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) emergency loan scheme, Cameron tried again, sending a long three-paragraph text to Sunak:

“Apologies for troubling you again, but I can’t see the case against helping to fund supply chains and SMEs in this way …Could you try and give it another nudge over the finish line”.


Rupert Neate

The GuardianTramp

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