Press release 12th Jul 2022

Call to Conservative leadership candidates: Promote integrity to ensure security

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12 July, 2022 - Transparency International UK is today calling on all candidates for the Conservative Party leadership to commit to restoring trust in politics by defending both integrity in public life and the country’s security.

Weak rules governing standards of conduct in government, the threat of hostile states exerting undue influence over our politics, and Britain’s continued role as a global hub for dirty money risk weakening the institutions upon which the country’s democracy and economy depend.

Polling carried out shortly before Boris Johnson’s resignation as party leader showed more than two-thirds of voters (69 per cent) had little or no confidence in the Government’s ability to run the country with integrity. And at least 27 MPs in government or senior Conservative Party roles cited concerns over conduct, standards or integrity in their resignation letters.

Transparency International UK calls on all prospective Prime Ministers to publish their intended foreword to the Ministerial Code as part of their campaign and commit to appointing an influential Anti-Corruption Champion. The role is currently vacant after John Penrose resigned in June. He stated he could not stay in post while believing the Prime Minister had broken the Code over Partygate.

 

Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said:

“Britain’s reputation for the rule of law and stable, fair governance has long made us a reliable ally on the world stage and a safe place to do business. Hostile states have long sought to undermine these strengths by exploiting failures of integrity in Westminster and the City to influence our democracy and wash the proceeds of crime and corruption. With trust in politicians and democratic institutions severely dented, opportunities for malign actors will only increase unless standards are raised.

“Britain’s next Prime Minister has an opportunity to show leadership with integrity to begin rebuilding public trust. With the right direction, standards in Government and Parliament could be raised, and the flow of dirty money through our economy stemmed. In doing so, the next leader of the Conservative Party can make it clear to our allies and the country that Britain remains dependable, secure, and ready to stand up for its values.”

 

Reforms that would support Britain’s democratic institutions and strengthen national security include:

 

Restoring trust in the conduct of politicians by putting standards bodies and codes on a statutory footing, including the Ministerial Code, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA), and the Independent Adviser on Ministerial Interests, in line with the recommendations made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL).

Limiting the ability of repressive regimes to unduly influence British politics by prohibiting paid political consultancies for Parliamentarians, restricting the sources of funding for Parliamentarians’ overseas visits, and implementing the recommendations on lobbying made in reviews by Nigel Boardman and CSPL.

Stemming the flow of dirty money through our economy by giving Companies House the powers it needs to stop the abuse of British companies, ensuring law enforcement agencies can hold wrongdoers to account, and radically overhauling the oversight bodies that keep tabs on those who enabler money laundering.