Tory minister resigns over government’s ‘lamentable’ record on Covid fraud
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Treasury and Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew has resigned in dramatic fashion after criticising the government’s “lamentable” oversight of Covid loan schemes.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Agnew told the chamber from the dispatch box saying that the current state of affairs are “not acceptable”.

The minister for counter fraud quit his role in Boris Johnson’s government after accusing the Treasury of having “no knowledge or little interest in the consequences of fraud to our economy or our society”.

Lord Agnew suggested that I would be dishonest of him as the anti-fraud minister to continue in his role if he’s incapable of doing it properly.

In a speech he said: “My Lords, you can see it is my deeply held conviction that the current state of affairs is not acceptable.

“Given that I'm the minister for counter fraud, it feels somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if I'm incapable of doing it properly, let alone defending our track record.

“It is for this reason that I've sadly decided to tender my resignation as a minister across the Treasury and Cabinet Office with immediate effect.”

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He went on to reveal the staggering amount of money that is estimated to be lost to fraud across government per year.

Lord Agnew said: “Total fraud loss across government is estimated at £29 billion a year. Of course, not all can be stopped - but a combination of arrogance, indolence and ignorance freezes the government machine.”

The minister said the handling of coronavirus business support measures by the Treasury have been “nothing less than desperately inadequate” and claimed “schoolboy errors were made”.

Lord Agnew insisted his resignation was in “no way” linked to the ongoing “partygate” controversy involving the PM.

He thanked his shadow minister and “noble friends” before exiting the chamber.

The news appears to have come as a shock, but many are pleased to see someone standing up for what is right.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, said: “Lord Agnew's resignation over this Government's failure is more integrity than Boris Johnson can manage.

“It is no surprise that a Minister feels unable to defend the waste of billions of taxpayer pounds on crony contracts and fraud. ‘Arrogance, indolance and ignorance’ indeed.”

Labour & Co-operative MP for Oldham West & Royton, Jim McMahon, said: “Lord Agnew was in a very small minority who took allegations of financial corruption at the former Collective Spirit Free School in my constituency seriously, after years of officials, agencies and other ministers turning a blind eye.

“That he has had enough says a lot.”

Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, wrote: “Billions of £££ of taxpayers' money has been lost because Treasury failed to do due diligence on Covid loans

“Add to that £££ wasted because of Covid contracts awarded to ministers' mates. Lord Agnew recognises Govt's failings & quits. Others should too.”

Lord Agnew’s resignation comes less than a week after Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was slow to support the PM, made the decision to write off £4.3 billion of fraudulent Covid payments.

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