Capping off an historic year of crises, sleaze and scandal is news that Downing Street is very “concerned” about MPs on APPGs trips abroad engaging in sex with prostitutes and heavy drinking.
One minister reportedly asked to extend a trip to Asia in order “to explore” his “interest in local women”. Another MP enquired on his arrival about the location of the brothel, according to investigations by Politico and the Times into what honourable members of all-party parliamentary groups (APPG) actually get up to on “working” trips abroad.
These trips are often paid for by foreign governments who pick up sizable tabs for the luxury hotels and the extras the honourable members enjoy. While working.
Although many, if not most, MPs are actually working on behalf of their constituents in their international missions (often to exotic climes), others seem to think they’re on a stag-do.
One group of MPs are said to have been met by sex-workers at their hotel while other politicians are accused of heavy drinking and “sex tourism”.
APPGs – source of the next lobbying scandal?
APPGs have no statutory powers and are informal groups made up of members of the Commons and the Lords, brought together through shared concerns and interests. As such, they focus on specific issues ranging from serious policies such as cancer care and nuclear weapons through to niche areas like jazz and real ale. They don’t get any funding so many APPGs get sponsorship and funding from lobbyists, organisations, individuals and countries related to their area of interest.
Back in November 2021, the BBC asked if APPGs – which then numbered 744 – would be “the source of the next Westminster lobbying scandal?”
More than 130 APPGs dedicate their specific interest to a particular foreign country.
Members visit these countries for various purposes. Many return. Again and again. Some of the countries are dictatorships and autocracies with appalling human rights records.
The trips are sometimes paid for by foreign governments or organisations. They obviously see value in paying a UK parliamentarian to visit their country. Even when the parliamentarian hires sex-workers and drinks so much they end up missing the meetings they’re there for, as claimed has happened.
That is what has made Downing Street so “concerned” about the reports. Surveillance and covert recording is ever easier nowadays and even easier when the target has a thirst and hunger for the salacious side of life.
A senior government source told the Times: “If a hostile state is lucky they may get MPs at risk of foreign blackmail photos and they will make sure they know exactly what has happened. And then they might get something from that.”
The source said the behaviour of MPs abroad on APPG trips “is quite astonishing”.
On so many levels. They are ambassadors of the nation, representatives of their constituents. Yet these sex-crazed-boozed-up hedonists, who are in charge of deciding the policies and budgets of the UK, and who set the laws of this country, are engaging in behaviour away from these shores that could get them arrested at home. Almost definitely they’d be deselected. Or have the whip suspended.
While their behaviour reveals hobbies and interests they’d never list on any CV or parliamentary biography, it also shows how stupid so many of those who lead the country are.
Politicians of such stature receive briefings from the British intelligence agencies about cyber threats, device security and hacking from foreign states. And yet, when they visit foreign lands and stay in luxury hotels paid for by their hosts they act like they’ve never heard of Kompromat.
Either that or they’re already so corrupted that it doesn’t make much difference.
Kompromat – Boris Johnson and the Russian secret state
Coincidentally, Kompromat is the name of John Sweeney’s documentary which claims to be the “world’s first to ask serious questions about the relationship between our former prime minister Boris Johnson and the Russian secret state.”
Sweeney may have to make a sequel if the Telegraph’s political editor, Ben Riley-Smith is prediction that 2023 will be the (latest) ‘Year of Boris’ comes true.
Because the undoubted king of political sleaze, extramarital sex, boozy parties and lies, though Riley-Smith describes him differently, is lurking and “will take opportunities to push his case for being the best-placed Tory to win the next election.”
He will hope his position is further improved by awarding even more peerages in his resignation list. Liz Truss has one too. While fresh controversy is guaranteed when nominations for the Lords are published, Labour has – with some clever foresight – already positioned itself by pledging to scrap the institution in favour of an elected second chamber.
Meanwhile, the Guardian has found that one-in-10 Tory peers has donated at least £100,000 to the Conservative party. Figures show that 27 of the 274 Conservative members of the House of Lords gave an average of £1.8 million
A growing trend is to give the bigger donors ministerial jobs.
Transparency International UK’s Duncan Hames, the policy director, said “party leaders shouldn’t be nominating and effectively appointing members of the House of Lords. Their need to raise funds for their political campaigns creates a serious risk of corruption when they are also in a position to be able to offer that kind of patronage.”
It “is bringing British politics into disrepute,” said Hames.
And, to repeat speaker Hoyle’s observation, making the UK even more of an international laughing stock.
Is it any wonder the country is in the state it is in?