How the Greensill scandal has become more dangerous for the Conservatives

The story could shift from being one about David Cameron’s texts to one about how the Tories have conducted themselves in office for more than a decade.

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The Greensill affair has widened from ministers to the civil service after it emerged that Bill Crothers “double-jobbed” as both a senior civil servant and as an adviser to Greensill for two months – and that this was agreed to by his bosses. 

A let-up for Rishi Sunak? The Chancellor gave the Commons a miss yesterday and, politically speaking, anything that widens the focus of the row to “a revolving door between government and lobbying for big business” is a welcome relief if the alternative is: “What, exactly, did Sunak text back to his old boss?” 

[Hear more on the New Statesman podcast]

But it's not necessarily a let-up for the Conservatives if the Greensill story moves from being one about a former prime minister’s texts to one about how a government that has been in power for more than a decade conducts itself. 

Boris Johnson’s biggest political success since becoming Tory leader has been in imbuing his party with the impression that it is fresh and different: that this isn’t an 11-year-old government. A scandal stretching right across the lifetime of the Conservative government may well be more damaging than one that implicates ministers in the present day.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics. He also co-hosts the New Statesman podcast.

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