How to buy an evening with a Tory minister
The 1990s gave us the cash for questions scandal; the noughties cash for honours. Now, 2018 has given us cash for dinners, with Tory ministers flogging themselves off to the highest bidder. The Guardian has reported that at a black tie event, held at the Natural History Museum in Kensington, one bidder offered £55,000 to spend the day shadowing prime minister Theresa May. Meanwhile, another “is understood to have paid £12,500 for a home-cooked dinner with the environment secretary, Michael Gove, and his wife, Sarah Vine, at their west London home”.
The alarming thing here is how normalised such things have become. Access to decision makers can be purchased in full public view, under an iconic museum whale, and spun as a bit of harmless fun. What is to stop, say, a lobbyist for an arms company, using the occasion to bend the ear of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who went under the hammer for a cool £30,000? Small change for weapons maker.