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Defeaning silence from Scottish Tories over PM misleading Commons on Covid contracts

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WELL I expect you can hear the shrieks of outrage even behind your own closed doors? No? Me neither. It seems Douglas Ross, Ruth Davidson et al are just so very, very busy they can’t find a minute to complain about Boris Johnson misleading the House of Commons.

But it is so. Shocked as I know you must be that the Prime Minister was telling less than the unvarnished truth about the availability of his government’s Covid contracts for public scrutiny, it seems he has been retailing porkies.

I have it on no less an authority than a High Court order that there are still 100 of these very lucrative contracts yet to be unveiled. Five months after the legal deadline for publication we still await the details, although the PM stood up at the dispatch box and assured the nation that they were all already on record. Except that they’re not.

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Everyone from the National Audit Office to the Good Law Project has been appalled at the cost of these contracts and the manner in which they were dished out, without anything resembling competitive tendering. Worse still there was a VIP fast lane for bidders, whose main claim to fame seems to be that they were either Tory donors, Tory pals or both of the above.

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READ MORE: Court order shows ‘Boris Johnson misled parliament over Covid-19 contracts’

Little Matt Hancock remains unrepentant. Not normal times. Great Urgency. Need for fast tracking. And all the other mealy mouthed alibis.

And you could just about buy some of that, were it not for two rather salient factors. One is the number of companies with proven track records in the field whose calls were mysteriously unreturned.

More damning was the nature of some of the successful suppliers – successful, that is, in gaining a fat contract, not to be confused with providing goods of sufficient and usable standard.

I mean however desperate you were to get instant access to decent PPE would you really want to be dealing with someone whose daily business was making pest control products? Or selling sweeties. Or who had just set up an instant company with no known experience in anything but spotting a fast buck?

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Like so much that is tawdry in Johnson’s administration, this scandal has benefitted from all our minds being rather preoccupied with staying alive. The pandemic has also diverted attention from the onrushing car crash in Northern Ireland where the protocol agreed by the PM to protect the peace process is now the subject of a mugging by both his new – and recently ennobled – Brexit bovver boy, and the DUP, who have obviously burnt though all Mrs May’s bribe money and are cutting up rough.

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You may just remember Mr Johnson assuring them there would be no such thing as a seabourne border between the UK and NI. You may recall watching him assure them that any pesky customs forms could be safely binned. You may have forgotten, as he clearly has, that the deal was the one signed off by his very self in order to “get Brexit done.”

So this is a PM with some form in the matter of misleading, which I believe is parliamentary language for telling lies.

Our own First Minister has been accused daily by the Scottish Tories of misleading Holyrood. A crime beyond redemption it seems, should the Hamilton inquiry find her guilty of same.

We will find out that verdict soon enough. But the judgement has already been passed in a court of law about Messrs Johnson and Hancock.

And from the leaders of their Scottish pack, nothing but silence. The deafening variety.

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