British politics is morphing from delusion into sleaze – Financial Times

British politics is morphing from delusion into sleaze – Financial Times

What went through David Cameron’s head? Was it just a giant dollar sign, or did the former prime minister think lobbying was his remaining calling in life?

Cameron’s work for disgraced banker Lex Greensill tarnishes a legacy already darkened by misjudgments over Brexit and austerity. We thought he was hiding in a shed in Oxfordshire. In fact, in early 2020, he was camping with Greensill and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia. Then he was texting chancellor Rishi Sunak to ask for Greensill’s now collapsed financial group to get more coronavirus support.

Former prime ministers earn enough for speeches to banks; they should not have to speak for them too. Perhaps, in Cameron’s case, an absolute lack of power corrupts absolutely.

For Britain, this is a wake-up call. Our politicians often seem deluded, but they have generally avoided an appearance of corruption or venality. This is not France, where two of the last three ex-presidents have been convicted of corruption.

Cameron’s lobbying for Greensill proved unsuccessful, with Sunak leaving the matter to unsympathetic officials. The system can probably handle a few unwise moves by has-been politicians, so long as successors act with probity. The problem is that, on regular occasion, serving ministers are not. Instead, they are creating a new tolerance of sleaze at Westminster.

A few cases stand out. Months before the 2019 election, Boris Johnson created a £3.6bn fund for deprived towns. Ministers were given