Rishi Sunak must “come clean” and publish his financial interests while under investigation over a possible failure to make a declaration to MPs, Sir Keir Starmer has demanded.
The Labour leader urged the Prime Minister not to “hide behind the process” and to make the details public to “clear this up” before the end of Tuesday.
But Downing Street was resisting the call as Mr Sunak faces an inquiry by Parliament’s standards watchdog amid claims he did not declare his wife’s shares in a childcare agency that benefited from the Budget.
Sunak has not done “anything sinister”
Home Office minister Chris Philp insisted Mr Sunak has not done “anything sinister”.
Downing Street said Mr Sunak “transparently” declared the shares Akshata Murty holds in Koru Kids as a ministerial interest, rather than to the Commons.
But the register that would reveal whether any possible conflict of interest has been detailed has not been updated in nearly a year.
Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to York University, Sir Keir said the allegation is “obviously serious”.
“The Prime Minister promised integrity and accountability when he came into office so I think he needs to clear this up and declare his interests,” the Labour leader said.
“The register of ministerial interests hasn’t been published for nearly a year so I invite the Prime Minister to publish, at least, his entry on this issue today, clear this up, because he promised transparency.
“Don’t hide behind the process, just come clean and tell everybody what the interest is so people can see it and judge it. That’s what transparency is.”
Downing Street said ethics adviser Sir Laurie Magnus, who was appointed in December after the post was left vacant by Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, will publish the new list “as quickly as possible”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “You will know that this is something that the independent adviser is looking at, something that I think he publicly said he wants to do as quickly as possible, rather than it being a decision solely for the Prime Minister to make.”
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Daniel Greenberg opened an investigation under rules demanding MPs are “open and frank” with their interests.
Mr Sunak did not detail the shares when being questioned by colleagues on the Liaison Committee about why one of his key Budget policies favoured private childcare firms.
Mr Philp defended Mr Sunak by insisting “no-one really doubts Rishi’s integrity and ethics”.
“He has declared his wife’s interests in his ministerial declaration. He did draw attention to that to the committee when he gave evidence and he also wrote to them subsequently as well,” the minister told GB News.
“He will work with the Standards Commissioner to clear up any questions that are outstanding.
“But I don’t think there’s anything sinister here, he has made his declaration.”
“Disclosures declared in normal way”
During the Select Committee hearing, Labour MP Catherine McKinnell questioned why childminders will get twice the incentive for joining the profession if they sign up with private agencies.
Asked if he had any interests to declare, Mr Sunak responded: “No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way.”
The Prime Minister went on to write to the committee to say he would like to “clarify for the parliamentary record that this interest has rightly been declared to the Cabinet Office”.
He said the new list of ministerial interests, which has not been updated for nearly a year, will be published “shortly”.
Sir Keir has been found to have breached the MPs’ code of conduct himself.
In August, it was ruled that he failed to register eight interests, including gifts from football teams and the sale of a plot of land, within the 28-day time limit.
The then commissioner Kathryn Stone found the breaches were “minor and/or inadvertent” and no punishment was ordered.
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